Biometric ID documents rolling out in Ecuador and Belgium to meet identity verification standards

Biometric ID documents rolling out in Ecuador and Belgium to meet identity verification standards

New biometric government ID documents are being launched in Ecuador with the introduction of new passports, and in Belgium with the rollout of new national ID cards, to meet international identity verification standards.

Ecuador has reached the launch of its new biometric passports, IzzSo reports, with a ceremony marking the occasion held with President Lenín Moreno at the registry offices of the state identification authority in north Quito.

The electronic passport contains a chip for biometric fingerprint and facial recognition scanning in line with ICAO requirements.

The issuance of the new passports was also part of a deal Ecuador made with the European Union to gain free access to the Schengen zone.

Ecuador’s Communications Secretariat said in a statement that the project advances government aims to improve the nation’s digitization and efficiency to benefit citizens, according to the report. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement last year with the registry office to improve services at consulates in other countries to support the biometric passport introduction.

Belgium is introducing ID cards with fingerprint data for contactless biometric matching to help protect citizens against identity fraud, according to The Brussels Times.

The new identity cards will be issued by all municipalities in Belgium by the end of the year. The program was approved by the federal government last year, after which a pilot was launched in 25 municipalities, with town halls issuing the cards. The cards were produced by Zetes, and contain design elements to prevent counterfeiting.

The new cards will align Belgium with international identity and security checking standards, including the European Commission’s standards for identity and residence cards, which call for fingerprint and photo data to be included on a contactless chip. The cards store biometric data from the holder’s two index fingers.

The cards will also be issued to minors, with children over 12 years of age required to provide fingerprint data.

The Times cites a study from a KU Leuven cybersecurity research group which said the new credential has “unclear” privacy impact and is “disproportionate.”

The rollout of the cards was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and universal coverage by the ID cards is not expected until at least 2030.

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