New ID system sparks privacy debate

Friday, 8 August 2003, 8:22 AM EST

Fingerprints, DNA and behavioural characteristics are unique and difficult to forge, but using them to identify an individual in the modern world is legally problematic.

This is the argument of Cape Town lawyer Kevin van Tonder in an article in the August edition of the SA Law Society's journal De Rebus.

Cabinet approved a programme for the establishment of a national biometric identification register, known as Hanis (the Home Affairs National Identification System), in January 1996.

Van Tonder argues that what could be a remarkable tool -- useful both for the individual, to allow almost fireproof access to information, and for the State, for example in the tracing of criminals -- also holds major privacy concerns.

"A key principal of privacy is that, generally speaking, people should have control over their personal information."

[ Read more ]




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