Citizen identity defined

July 2010 News

The South African citizen is likely to see (and touch) more biometrics in the coming years.

For over a century and a half now, citizen fingerprints have been an integral part of the South African citizen’s identity, and thus today, departments such as Home Affairs and Social Development among others, link such biometrics to an individual’s registration as a citizen, issuance of an ID book, passport and driving licence, attest records of education, marriage, divorce and inheritance as well as to disburse state welfare pensions.

Fingerprints have also, like in the rest of the world, played a crucial role in crime detection, adding scientific precision to the establishment of culpability, and in the long run deter offenders from repeating criminal acts. South Africa will shortly be adding yet other dimensions to the biometric capability, capacity and infrastructure – critical drivers being the recently enacted Child Protection and Sexual Offenders Acts.

Making the situation more complex and contentious has been the recent amendment to the Forensic Bill, almost simultaneously with the introduction of the Privacy of Personal Information (POPI) Bill, both addressing different and yet fundamentally inter-related issues, bringing us to face questions surrounding the use of technologies such as biometrics to tread upon individual identity.

On one hand, law enforcement agencies surely need a wider mandate to ascertain identities, whether it is of immigrants, private security personnel, individuals managing critical installations and facilities as well as an entire range of state and corporate staff, among others. However, on the other hand, modern democratic societies have chosen protection of individual privacy to be of paramount importance. It is thus the age-old debate between security and protection versus privacy and liberty. In some way, these two bills have thus attempted to find the best trade-off and the most effective cross-check between the two.

Nonetheless, we are going to see biometrics usage grow even further in the next few years, and also see dramatic changes in the way biometrics are deployed. We will also see the diversification of this technology beyond fingerprints to facial, iris and vein recognition among others, is also likely to change not only the rules, but the game itself.

At the forthcoming Citizen Identity event, on 27 September, these and other issues will be discussed.

For more information contact Carol Willis, +27 (0)11 462 1690,

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

SABRIC annual crime stats 2019
Issue 5 2020 , News
SABRIC, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, has released its annual crime stats for 2019

From the editor's desk: We're back!
Issue 5 2020, Technews Publishing , News
Welcome to the fifth issue of 2020. If years were people, 2020 would have been hung, drawn and quartered...

XtraVision moves to new premises
Issue 5 2020, XtraVision , News
Hot on the heels of the company changing hands, XtraVision, a distributor of electronic security and fire solutions in Africa and South America, has relocated.

20 years of innovation in security and biometrics
Issue 5 2020, Suprema , News
Founded in 2000, Suprema has built a sales network in over 140 countries and has over 1 billion users.

Fidelity ADT and Vumacam join forces
Issue 5 2020, Fidelity ADT , News
Fidelity-ADT recently partnered with Vumacam to roll out a surveillance network of cameras across a number of southern suburbs in Johannesburg.

Dahua launches ECO Partner Programme
Issue 5 2020, Dahua Technology South Africa , News
Dahua Technology has launched its new technology partner programme, the Dahua ECO Partner Programme.

Suprema unveils Suprema G-SDK
Issue 5 2020, Suprema , News
Suprema’s latest software development kit (SDK), Suprema G-SDK, allows Suprema devices to be seamlessly integrated with third-party software.

New smart alarm solution with video verification
Issue 5 2020 , News
IDS has released the 806, a new 8-zone alarm solution based on 20 years of experience and over 1,5 million IDS805 installations.

From the editor’s desk: Sustaining security and sanity
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020, Technews Publishing , News
Sustainability is a critical component of almost anything in these days of a tanking economy, boosted by COVID-19, which is given further emphasis by the economy being further hammered by the ‘cure’ for ...

Gallagher launches Command Centre v8.30
Issue 5 2020 , News
Gallagher’s v8.30 release improves operator efficiency with enhancements to Command Centre Mobile and integrated third-party systems, and further supports health and safety obligations.