Costa Rica plans to add facial recognition to national biometric identification system

Three years ago, Costa Rica announced it would issue citizens ePassports by 2020. Now the government has announced another plan for 2020, to introduce facial recognition to the country’s biometric identification platform, which has so far been based on fingerprints, writes the Costa Rica News.

The country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s (TSE) developed the current fingerprint-based identification system that by 2020 will also integrate facial recognition at a cost of U.S. $3.5 million. This involves replacing the current bi-dactilar system with a deca-dactilar system that includes another biometric. Collaborating with a third party to develop the system would have raised the cost to $10 million.

As part of its mission, the TSE provides civil registry and identification services to Costa Rican citizens. The biometric database was developed and managed by the Technological Strategy Directorate of the TSE and can be integrated by any state institution. The system will be used in criminal investigations to reduce the amount of paperwork involved in identifying criminals, among other possibilities.

On November 6, 2019, the Executive and Judicial branches of the government are expected to sign an agreement, according to the report, part of the Digital Transformation Strategy for Costa Rica of the Bicentennial, committing to working together on the development of digital and biometric identification based on patterns that can’t be lost, forgotten, stolen or replicated.

In January, a pilot was rolled out in a hospital where patients could identify themselves with their fingerprints. The system will also be used for ATMs and in public transport to complete transactions with the use of fingerprints, according to a request made by the TSE.

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