Digital ID schemes marginalizing Roma in Serbia, Rohingyas in Myanmar: reports
Digital identity tech and legislation are accused of human rights offenses in Europe and Asia for automatically excluding certain communities and people with disabilities.
Serbian Social Card law ‘invasive,’ ‘intrusive’
Serbia’s Social Card law has been called an “intrusive surveillance system” that could harm marginalized members of society, particularly Roma communities.
The claims come from human rights organization Amnesty International, which submitted a legal opinion earlier this week as part of a review of the constitutionality of the law that came into effect in March.
The legislation established a centralized government database processing 130 categories of personal data to assess the eligibility of those applying for social security support. The rules should enable a fair allocation of funds for the disadvantaged. Still, Amnesty finds that its application reflects an “invasive digital surveillance system that threatens the right to equality.”
For instance, people with disabilities or members of the Roma community tend to have the lowest incomes in Serbia. Amnesty claims the Social Card law de facto excludes them from the financial support system, further exacerbating their living conditions.
This exclusion, Amnesty adds, is completely automated and through algorithms that have not been publicly disclosed.
Submitted by the non-profit alongside seven other rights organizations, the legal opinion highlights these concerns and calls for a halt to the rollout of the Social Card law to allow for a full assessment of whether the rules comply with Serbia’s obligations under international human rights law.
The critique comes a couple of months after Serbian officials were reportedly seen negotiating financial and technical support for U.S. and Swedish smart city tech, drawing criticism from both citizens and rights advocates.
Biometric ID cards used to deny citizenship to Rohingyas in Myanmar
The Myanmar government has been criticized for using the country’s identity card system to persecute, exclude and surveil the Muslim ethnic Rohingya community.
According to a Thomson Reuters report, human rights groups have criticized once again the issuance of a separate ID to the Rohingya minority that eventually classed them as illegal immigrants in their own country.
The National Verification Cards (NVCs), first issued by Suu Kyi’s civilian government almost a decade ago, were initially deemed necessary for security purposes and to enable holders to apply for citizenship.
However, over the last eight years, the IDs were exploited by officials and security forces to actively persecute Rohingya minorities, says Kyaw Win, director of the London-based Burma Human Rights Network.
Further, individuals who fled the country and found shelter in neighboring Bangladesh were reportedly also subjected to surveillance technologies.
Aid agencies who captured refugees’ face, fingerprint and iris biometrics for food rationing purposes reportedly shared the data with Bangladeshi authorities which, in turn, passed the information to the Myanmar government.
The country’s administration has also recently expanded its biometric technologies efforts by deploying new 4-4-2 MORPHS fingerprint scanners from Mantra Softech for bordered control applications.