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Biometric IDs underperforming or accompanying international tensions

Biometric IDs underperforming or accompanying international tensions

Travel documents are one of those facts of life that only seem truly important when the world feels like it is going to hell. And travel and ID documents feel very important everywhere right now.

Four recent reports about biometric IDs from around the globe illustrate the point.

In Canada, Global News is reporting that biometric data is actually slowing the rush to accept war refugees from Ukraine.

A sign on the window of visa contractor VFS Global in Berlin says that high demand for documentation has forced the staff to require hard-to-get appoints for anyone needing to get photo and fingerprint appointments, complicating and delaying refugee-status decisions, according to Globalnews.ca.

VFS Global is a massive government contractor handling visa applications for most nations. The office described above processes applications for people wanting to travel to Canada.

In an attempt to resolve this bottleneck, the Canadian government decided to just stop requiring the collection of biometric data from Ukrainian children, that nation’s fleeing elderly and those who have gotten a Canadian visa in the last ten years.

(Similarly, in The Netherlands, the nonprofit Council for Refugees, has asked banks to be less rigid about would-be customers arriving from Ukraine having biometric IDs to open accounts.)

According to Globalnews.ca, the federal government is processing 93 percent of Ukrainian applications within two weeks. If that statistic remains valid, it says something about the flow of refugees to Canada.

The story goes on to report on allegations that VFS Global essentially is an indifferent monopoly (noting the sizable challenges to bringing the service back to government control). The firm allegedly is also putting more effort into bespoke services and accommodations – including well-appointed lounges available for a price. The sidewalk is where everyone else awaits service.

A whiff of corruption emanates from Mali, in West Africa, too.

Malian officials have “summoned” France’s foreign minister, according to French broadcaster RFI, for a 2015 dispute over who makes Malian biometric passports.

The French government is accused of persuading a former Mali president to replace a Canadian digital ID company with another company now known as Idemia.

That situation is unlikely to be resolved soon.

Mali’s military junta reportedly is walking away from defense agreements the previous government had signed with France and other European countries. It also allegedly has welcomed onto its territory Wagner, a Russian mercenary company

Leaders do not sound like they are conciliatory.

Alleged terrorist found with fraudulent biometric ID

Halfway around the world, the Malaysian state of Sabah is taking steps regarding its biometric IDs that could be read as separatist in tone.

A government official claims that police in Manila have arrested an Abu Sayyaf terrorist traveling with a falsified Philippines passport and MyKad, the Malaysian biometric national ID.

The state needs its own biometric IDs because the national version has lost its integrity.

At the same time, leaders of Sabah are upset at the national government’s answer to illegal immigrants in the state.

National politicians proposed issuing a foreign nationals card. It is not clear from afar what the exact problem is, but local leaders appear to feel confident that they can do a better job of policing their ID documents.

A state politician is quoted in The Star saying the national government should “support Sabah’s aspirations.”

Malaysia is also planning to roll out a biometrics-backed digital ID.

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