Biometric National ID Card for Mexico

Biometric National ID Card for Mexico

El Presidente Felipe Calderon of Mexico recently stated that the Mexican government would begin to issue national security cards which will use biometrics for positive identification. Earlier this year the Mexican government faced the prospect of civil war as border violence due to smuggling surged to such enormity that has not been seen since the rum rings which existed in the United States during Prohibition. Mexico has even sought military collaboration with the United States to ameliorate the situation. For national security reasons as well as a means to address the decline in tourism due to the border violence it is hoped that the new identification cards can be used to increase security at the borders. The plan is supposed to go into full effect by 2012, with the president’s goal being that by then every citizen will be scanned and enrolled. The government also hopes that the cards will create more accuracy in distributing government aid.

Why? Up until recently, Mexican citizens used voter ID cards as a form of identification and that’s not exactly the panacea of identification technology. Each citizen also has an 18-character identification number, similar to a social security number that is used in the United States. Even though the voter ID cards were sufficient for most purposes, the recent violence in Mexico is leading the policymakers to look for other ways to crack down on illegal activity. Earlier this year, the Mexican state of Tamaulipas began an initial testing program of the biometrics cards.

This effort parallels an initiative in the United States government, called REAL ID that you’ve probably heard of, which will likewise require biometric information from US citizens. Real ID on the other hand has been on a rockier path. While proponents in the U.S. push that the REAL ID will help combat illegal immigration and reduce the presence of undocumented workers, privacy advocates see things differently.

To compound the matter more, Mexico’s government is not renowned for its transparency or its accountability, so one wonders how the average Mexican citizen feels about giving any additional power to the government. At any rate, one thing is certain: lines at the Mexican version of the DMV will undoubtedly be longer, since not merely a photograph but now highly detailed biometrics will be required-several more scans ostensibly for the purposes of security and identification.

Now back to the card: The old voter ID cards have a photo, signature, and one fingerprint (ink). The new ID cards will sport multiple fingerprints, and potentially include face/photo and iris scans. The information will be stored on a magnetic strip. The old voter ID cards will still be accepted until they are replaced with the new biometrics-based cards.

About the Author