Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Identification Information


Published Mindanao Post 25 Dec 1996
Not long after birth, the newborn is drawn into a paper trail of information. Simple data at first, parents and birth data. Then as the baby grows through childhood, the information grows with it, now including schools, siblings, and abode. The demands for information keep pace with the child into adulthood and citizenship: voter’s data, driver’s licenses, permits, school records, occupation constituting the “biographical data” (biodata), the must for obtaining employment.
Now an adult and earning a livelihood, the individual continues to amass information and fills the demands for it: marriage status, children, date of employment, passport and travel, police and NBI clearance, club memberships, credit card facilities, banks, sources and level of income, and others.
Among the most demanding information seekers are the so-called Human Resources department (HRD’s) of public and private institutions. In their quest for reliable data, the applicant for employment is often asked for data irrelevant to the position sought. It does not matter that the irrelevance adds to paperwork clutter; that’s a firm’s choice. But what does matter is the manner in which the collected data is handled and protected from prying eyes.
Comes now a proposal by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for a national system of identification that is encountering heavy opposition. President Ramos, in supporting the plan, declared that he has not wholly rejected the implementation of the system but wants it designed to avoid invasion of privacy.
Proponents say that the benefits to society far outweigh the ills. Initial implementation at barangay level will help barangay officials respond effectively against crime. It will expedite the voting process and discourage cheating. It will provide a solution for the pesky demands for an I.D. by gate guards (who currently fancy a driver’s license). It can serve as a permanent police and NBI clearance until revoked by conviction, or as authentic data for employment purposes. It will be a welcome replacement for the outmoded and unreliable colonial system called the Cedula and Community tax.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, opposers counter with both legal and speculative arguments. They aver that it violates bank secrecy and that it will pinpoint targets of kidnapping and blackmail. Human rights advocates fear abuse of the system and believe it will lead to violations of human rights. And naturally, it is dreaded by those who thrive in anonymity ─ the flying voters, the ghost employees, the criminal underworld.
In this age of Information Technology, massive data can and are compiled and rapidly accessed, at times wrongfully. To preserve the individual’s right to privacy in the face of expanding requirements for information by business and government organizations, four principles of privacy are proposed:
1. Individuals should have access to information about themselves in record-keeping systems and there should be some procedure to find out how this information is being used.
2. There should be some way for an individual to correct or amend an inaccurate record.
3. An individual should be able to prevent information from being improperly disclosed or used for other than authorized purposes without his or her consent, unless required by law. click on image

4. The custodian of data files containing sensitive information should take reasonable precautions to be sure that the data are reliable and not misused.
Translating these broad principles into specific and uniform guidelines will not be easy. A proper balance must be found between limiting access to information to fulfill the needs of society on the other.
The imperative need for identification is manifested in many forms. Banks assign to each customer a unique account number for passbooks, checkbooks and special accounts, and a PIN (personal identification number) on ATM cards. The National Statistics office, not to be outdone, issues also a PIN (population identification number) automatically assigned to individuals born after a specified date in 1980’s. And much earlier in the I.D. game, taxmen in the BIR deal with taxpayers using a TIN.
So, must a citizen bear all these TINs, PINs, QINs and ZINs which all cost money, or should these be simplified into one national NIN?

Biometrics ID

Frequent flyers, clients or customers normally go through an annoying process of identifying his person before being served. Today they are offered a method of expeditious identification aside from the ubiquitous ID card in laminated plastic. One can apply for a special discount card at a supermarket. The clerk enters your biodata into their computer, scans one of your existing IDs cum photo, and after a lapse of two days issues a plastic card resembling a credit card without the magnetic stripe. This card is typical of a relatively low-tech system.
Credit cards and ATM cards are an improvement over the laminated IDs but still does not protect your identity as an individual. A new system called Biometrics refers to the automatic identification of a person based on his/her physiological or behavioral characteristics. This method of identification is preferred over traditional methods involving passwords and PIN numbers for various reasons: first, the person to be identified is required to be physically present at the point-of-identification; second, identification based on biometric techniques obviates the need to remember a password or carry a token. With the increased use of computers as vehicles of information technology, it is necessary to restrict access to sensitive/personal data. By replacing PINs, biometric techniques can potentially prevent unauthorized access to or fraudulent use of ATMs, cellular phones, smart cards, desktop PCs, workstations, and computer networks. PINs and passwords may be forgotten, and token based methods of identification like passports and driver's licenses may be forged, stolen, or lost. Thus biometric systems of identification are enjoying a renewed interest. Various types of biometric systems are being used for real-time identification, the most popular are based on face recognition and fingerprint matching. However, there are other biometric systems that utilize iris and retinal scan, speech, facial thermograms, and hand geometry.
A biometric system is essentially a pattern recognition system which makes a personal identification by determining the authenticity of a specific physiological or behavioral characteristic possessed by the user. An important issue in designing a practical system is to determine how an individual is identified. Depending on the context, a biometric system can be either a verification (authentication) system or an identification system.
Verification vs Identification:
There are two different ways to resolve a person's identity: verification and identification. Verification (Am I whom I claim I am?) involves confirming or denying a person's claimed identity. In identification, one has to establish a person's identity (Who am I?). Each one of these approaches has its own complexities and could probably be solved best by a certain biometric system.
Biometrics is a rapidly evolving technology which has been widely used in forensics such as criminal identification and prison security. Recent advancements in biometric sensors and matching algorithms have led to the deployment of biometric authentication in a large number of civilian applications. Biometrics can be used to prevent unauthorized access to ATMs, cellular phones, smart cards, desktop PCs, workstations, and computer networks. It can be used during transactions conducted via telephone and Internet (electronic commerce and electronic banking). In automobiles, biometrics can replace keys with key-less entry and key-less ignition.

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