UAE: ID cancelled applications toll rises to 56,000

During the month of Ramadan, the most important Muslim holiday number of cancelled national ID card application rose to a new record of 56 thousand. The application gets automatically cancelled after missing 2 consecutive appointments. During the month of Ramadan 40,000 applicants were given and extra 3rd chance. Number of cancellations in this pool was vely low.
As we wrote recently the new identification cards ar mandatory and not posessing one or holding an expired card will result in fines starting October this year.
Application appointment can be changed using automated call center although there are many complaints on system functionality and high number of missed appointments proves that the system has room for improvement. Also the card link to many services like transportation and health care remains still in the world of promises which discurages citizens from getting the new document promptly.

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Google+ ID badges

The social networking site Google Plus has introduced a new feature for identity verification. Verification badge will appear next to the profile name when it comes to celebrities, public figures or users who have a lot of followers. The badge will be a grey check mark in a brighter grey circle. Google plans to expand the feature to all users in the future as a part of promoting trustworthy environment policy. Real name policy is a dominating trend among social networking sites. Google Plus main competitor Facebook has been requiring real names since its day one. Many internet media commentators point to real names as one of the factors helping Facebook to knock out MySpace which has been a leader of social networking for few years and allowed anonyms and avatars. Google + launched in June and is estimated to have 25 million memmbers.
Transparency and identification seems to be a solution for many issues of the internet. More and more internet forums, especially the ones on emotional topics such sports and politics look towards full name identification as a remedy to insults which otherwise can reach 95% content saturation making it difficult to read, requiring heavy moderation effort and discouraging users. Similar solutions tries to address email spamming where Sender Policy Framework (SPF) verifies if sender IP address matches the one registered with the domain and therefore denying relay to spoof senders. The technology is resource intensive which causes even major spam filters not using it. Also many valid senders aren’t SFP compliant which makes them spam false positives.
While internet identification is generally perceived as a step in the right direction it also raises some security concerns. While online services assure users that they control which personal information can be made public and who can access it hacker attacks and data leaks still remain potential threats for members privacy.

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IL: no photo on Amish ID cards?

Illinois governor has recently signed a bill that allows state governor to exempt certain groups of people from having photograph on driver’s license or identification card due to religious beliefs. The bill number 1484 raised Secretary of State Jesse White concerns about security. He pointed out that id card without a photo defeats the purpose of the document as you cannot match name against person’s image. Bill was sponsored by state representatives Adam Brown (R), Chapin Rose and state senators Dale Righter and Kyle McCarter. Brown is willing to work with White and state police on alternatives to photo ID including police internal photo database as well as finger print identification.
Amich objections against taking photographs, especially posed ones come from the second commandment, Exodus 20:4: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Although 10 commandments are common for all Christians Amish population seem to interpret it very closely and literally.
Amish community of Illinois faced similar problem in March when State Police director Jonathan Monken handed down the decision that FOID (Firearm Owner Identification cards) must contain a holder’s photo. It needs to be noted that the director took the decision on his last day in the office which set his successor in a difficult position.
Pennsylvania and Ohio, the 2 states with largest Amish communities allow exceptions for not having photograph on state identification documents due to religious beliefs.

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UAE: not having ID card will cost Dh20 a day

The government decision number 25 published last Thursday penalizes UAE citizens for not possesing national ID card begining mid October. Fines of Dh20 (equivalent of around $6) a day will be imposed on people who have expired documents for 30 days or failed to register changes within that time. Maximum allowed penalty would be Dh 1,000. Disabled citizens will be exempted from the law. UAE national ID cards are issued by EIDA and need to be renewed every 2 years.
The new legislation quickly brought up controversy as many people complain that new document has little use. Despite Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) efforts to promote the new identification card many privately owned businesses and even government agencies don’t recognize it. Most airport based car rentals still require passport and it will certainly take some time for company policies updates and staff to get used to it. Even EIDA officials openly admit that not all government agencies have updated their systems to be able to access new card data. At this time it’s wise to take both ID card and the passport when visiting an office to register a car or getting help at a hospital. Needless to say adopting to a new document might be difficult for many institutions but it remains a citizen responisbility to get a new document.

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Germany: Berlin Police unions against ID badges

Police unions in the capital of Germany and at the same time capital of the land of Brandenburg raised concerns on policemen safety who are now suppose to wear ID badges with a unique number which identifies an individual member of service.
As of now Berlin policemen wear no personal identification at all and are obliged to give identification number on demand. Amnesty International, a non government organization originally demanded tags with last names to be worn at all times. Compromised idea of id badges with a unique number was reached in early 2010.
The reasons for the tags is an increase in respect towards public as well reduce of brutality of intervening police force. The fact that a policeman can act anonymously may contribute to his behavior, argue human right activists. On the other hand Police workers union say that wearing any form of individual identification put members of service at risk of being recognized and harassed by criminals while off duty. The concern is even more intense when it comes to officers families and relatives.
It needs to be said at this point that wearing numbered ID badges by the police is very common among European Union countries while wearing last name tags prevails as a trend in the United States. Union members like to bring up an argument that there is diferrent level of respect towards the Police in European countries and US. This might feel very true when you look at the recent riots in the UK when the Police was accussed of acting firm enough.

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Authorities reveal fake ID cards James ‘Whitey’ Bulger used while on the run

Justice Department has revealed 5 identification cards used by Bulger while he was hiding away for 16 years before his arrest in June 2011. The documents shown in Boston court yesterday include Social Sercurity Card, non-government New York card, medical alert card, AARP and employee photo ID.
Whitey was on the run since December 1994 when a former FBI employee warned him about imminent arrest for 19 homicide charges (Bulger was FBI informant since 1975). He was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for 12 years. Arrest took place on June 22 outside his apartment in Santa Monica, the suspect was living there with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig under the names of Charles and Carol Gasko. Over $800k in cash and number of guns were found in the wall holes of the apartment. Before California the couple used to live in Grand Isle, Louisiana as Thomas and Helen Baxter.

Bugler is facing 24 federal charges, including 19 murders. He is a brother of a known Massachussts politician, William M. Bulger who used to be President of the Massachusetts Senate and president of the University of Massachusetts. He had noticeably contributed to the state education system by advocating for charter and public school choice; helped to raise funds for public libraries, he’s also credited for reforming the state welfare system. Unfortunately relationship to his brother eventually forced him out of the politics.

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Fiji: Senior bus fare ID card often not shown

Permanent Secretary of the Social Welfare Ministry Govind Sami has expressed his concern of senior citizens not showing their identification cards to the bus operators. Bus companies have reported that most citizens over 60 years old and disabled elegible for 50% bus fare discounts are only showing their vouchers and not id cards. The agreement between the government and the major bus operators was reached back in January and went into force in mid March. Over 18 thousand cards have been issued so far while around 60 thousand people are eligible for discounted transportation fare benefit.

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UAE: ID card fraud charge for policeman and a civilian

27 years old Emirati policeman was charged yesterday for allowing 21 year old woman, citizen of Yemen to use an ID card belonging to his sister in order to cross the border with Oman. The couople was stopped at the border point in Hatta when doubts were raised by border protection officer over identification doucment photo and woman using it resemblece. Couple was heading to Oman for a wedding. Suspects will face the court on Septemper 14th.

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Kenya: national ID card production resumes

Production of national ID cards was halted in Kenya in July 2010. The reason for stopping the process was production materials delivery problems. Minister of Immigration Affairs, Otieno Kajwang, announced production re-launch on Monday press conference. 150 thousand applications were processed in last 2 weeks while 650 thousand more are awaiting processing since the last year halt. With new printing machines purchased recently and capacity of 25 thousand cards a day the backlog is expected to be cleared in the matter of a few weeks. The government has allocated 183 milion shillings for production of 2 more millions of national id cards only this year. Rapid production process is required to make sure young population of Kenya can take part in presidential elections coming up in August 2012.
All individuals 18 and above in Kenya must register with National Registration Bureau and obtain a national ID. Failure to do so is considred a crime. Proof of citizenship is required in order to obtain the document; citizenship can be obtained through birth, descent, registration, or naturalization. National ID card is required to apply for a job, college admission, travelling outside of the country, conducting business, opening bank account or accessing government institutions.
Card issuance is free of charge however replacement fee was introduced in May this year due to high demand for replacement and document careless handling by the citizens. We wrote about it in a separate article.

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Ghana: biometric registration for election futile?

Ghana government has recently decided to spend GHS 50 million to implement biometric registration for upcoming 2012 elections. Electoral Commission (EH) which will be conducting the registration has been already facing criticism for the allegations that the registration system is not capable of veryfing collected data upon ballot cast and therefore wasting the funds. IPAC, the Inter-Party Advisory Committee is also being criticized for not taking action to prevent money waste and possible election fraud.
Surprisingly the critics don’t offer much of an explanation how such verification process should look like. Even Ghana not being a large country, not for Africa standards anyway (over 238k square kilometers) with less than perfect infrastructure expecting biometric verification at the election polls does not sound real. A finger print scanner at every election post connected to a central biometric database would require high cost computer network infrastructure that even most developed countries can’t efford. It is hard to imagine the cost of a such enterprise and therefore total cost of elections.
Ghana government introduced highly secure, biometric ID card in 2008. All Ghana citizens 6 years and older are eligible for the card. Sure it takes effort to get the card but registering for the vote is not effort free either. In country with a history of election fraud or questioning election results a need for fraud free election comes without a doubt. Many US state legislators have recently passed bills requiring photo ID card to vote eventough evidence of election fraud in the US remains low for decades. I would advise authorities to put more effort into getting all citizens ID card rather than spend money on doubtful election security measures.

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