Candice Lanier – For over a year and a half, the Mexican government has been collecting an unprecedented amount of biometric data from minors ages 4 to 17 as part of a youth ID card program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that the data is being gathered for Personal Identity Cards for minors. This I.D. card, according to Mexican authorities, will help streamline registration in schools and health facilities and comes embedded with digital records of iris images, fingerprints, a photograph and a signature for each minor.
The ID card project is part of the integration of Mexico’s National Population Register (RENAPO), which is intended to provide a unique identity system to conclusively prove identities of all Mexican citizens. Under the program, the Ministry of the Interior will issue Citizen Identity Cards and Personal Identity Cards containing biometric information, first to youth, and later extending to Mexico’s entire adult population.
Since July of 2009, when President Felipe Calderón officially announced the creation of RENAPO, numerous observers have sounded the alarm that the endeavor violates individuals’ privacy rights. Despite serious concerns raised by a governmental accountability agency and a special commission tasked with studying the program, in January of 2011 Mexico nevertheless became the first country in the world to use iris scans as a component of ID cards.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been expanding its biometrics source from fingerprint to iris and facial recognition for identity verification. In addition to collecting iris and facial images on suspected illegal immigrants or immigrants arrested at border patrol stations,the DHS is also developing a program called Future Attribute Screening Technology. The purpose of the program is to “detect cues indicative of mal-intent” based on factors including ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate.