Opinion: Biometric Voter Registration gives an opportunity for identity database

You have probably seen it on the American hit show, Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) – criminals being nailed over a simple fingerprint or a strand of DNA. This could be far-fetched in some parts of Africa, but is it possible for the continent?

As the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) continues to register voters using the new biometric voter registration kits for the upcoming elections, there have been whispers of what this information may be used for after next year’s elections.

Wouldn’t it be good if the information went into a common database where the government can access your information? Wouldn’t it be easy to give your information to the government all in one go and apply for your national ID, passport and driving license without having to give redundant information?

Kenya’s Information and Communications ministry permanent secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo, although seeming to warm to the idea, was evasive on whether the voter registration information should go to such an extent.

“The government has collected enough data to do this,” Bitange said. His ideal would be to have a central system where government can access information of its citizens, but in a secure manner.

Dr. Bitange also revealed that the mobile phone SIM card registration would help to form an online identity profile, so the government seems to like the idea of having the biometric details on every Kenya.

Moreover, it is not farfetched. Susan Potgieter, the General Manager of SABRIC, an online security firm working with banks in South Africa, said that there there is a National Population Council that keeps biometric information of the citizens.

Even if the thought of having the voter information being rolled out to a national database is premature, as the government automates its processes this is something that needs to be spearheaded quickly.

Many hours are spent queuing for various documents in government offices, whereas technology can leverage on these manual weaknesses to ensure a more efficient way of how the government treats its citizen’s information.

Posted in: Gadgets

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