On Tuesday 22 August 2017, R2K Gauteng will march to Home Affairs Head Office, Hallmark Building, 230 Johannes Ramokhoase Street in Pretoria to challenge the new “Smart ID” system. We will meet at the old Putco open space in Struben Street at 9h30am.
- End the use of biometrics!
- Keep the State Security Agency out of our ID systems!
- Keep private companies out of our ID systems!
- No fees and charges for poor people who need IDs
- End corruption and mismanagement at Home Affairs
- Full transparency and accountability of those who are entrusted with the population’s personal information
- Equal treatment for EVERYONE who lives in South Africa, regardless of nationality, race, class, gender and sexual identity!
Since 2013, the Department of Home Affairs has been calling on ordinary South Africans to sign up for the new ‘Smart ID’ cards that will replace your green ID book.
When you register for the card, your fingerprints and photo are stored in an electronic database. (This is called ‘biometric’ information.) You must also pay R140, unless you are a pensioner or 16 years old.
It is estimated that the green ID book will be phased out by 2020. You don’t have the choice of keeping the old ID book.
Why? Home Affairs has promised that the Smart ID will keep us safer from identity theft and crimes such as social grants fraud, because it is linked to your fingerprint. We say this is WRONG!
Why the Smart ID cards are bad
- What else is the government doing with your private information?
Biometric information is about controlling people. Many governments are keeping big databases of the private, biometric information of millions of ordinary people. This includes storing the fingerprints, faces, and irises (photo of your eye). These databases are collected for one purpose (such as receiving social services), but then used for other purposes (policing, border control, debt collection). The database is also used by the security agencies as a major form of surveillance and tracking ordinary people, even those who have not committed a crime. Many democratic countries have chosen NOT to implement a biometric system for this reason.
|What is Biometric information? This is the personal information that identifies who you are by using your body, such as your fingerprint, face, or eye.|
- What happens if thieves steal your private information? Your biometric information (your fingerprint and face) is the most important and personal information you own. What happens if that information is corrupted or stolen from the Home Affairs database? You cannot change your fingerprint like you can change your PIN or your phone number. Once your biometric information is stolen, you can never recover from it. Unfortunately the threat is not only from criminals outside of Home Affairs: corrupt officials have already enabled the theft and misuse of people’s information.
- What are private companies doing with your personal information? The Home Affair’s national identity system has been set up by a private SA-Japanese company called Marpless, which has had the responsibility of collecting and storing our personal and biometric information in the lead-up to the Smart ID cards. We have learned the lesson of SASSA, which used a private company, Net1/Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), for the payment of social grants, using people’s biometric information. CPS used this access to sell other products to millions of people, and in thousands of cases even just deducted money from their grants without permission. To this day the public still doesn’t have full knowledge of which private companies had access to the SASSA beneficiaries’ information and what was done with that information.
What are some of the problems?
- Everyone except pensioners and youths will be forced to pay R140 to change their IDs. Pensioners and youths are not the only people who are poor in South Africa!
- Across the world, government identity databases often enable discrimination against people who are poor, black, foreign or otherwise marginalised.
- There are a number of cases where people who converted from green ID books to the Smart IDs have been denied IDs because they are suspected of having family links to other countries.
- The biometric system can still lead to misidentification, especially for miners and other workers whose hands no longer have clear fingerprints.
Date: 22 August 2017
Venue: Old Putco open space in Struben Street – Home Affairs Head Office, Hallmark Building, 230 Johannes Ramokhoase Street in Pretoria
Time: 9h30AM – 12PM