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Photo: Shutterstock.com / Chaikom

Activists Sound Alarm Over African Biometric ID Projects

– Aljazeera

Why privacy and migrant rights activists are concerned about the deluge of biometric ID schemes across the African continent

Almost every African country with a stable government has created a biometric ID system in hopes they will lead to accelerated development, but data protection experts and human rights organizations have argued that this has come at a high cost to civil liberties.

"Many African states have incomplete citizen registries, meaning that people without birth certificates, or a biometric identifier, cannot prove their identity. In sub-Saharan countries, for example, rural birth registration for children under five is less than 50 percent."

Biometric IDs raise privacy concerns for vulnerable groups such as LGBT+ people and sex workers. Many African countries lack stringent data protection laws, meaning people’s data could be processed to other states such as Europe and used to deport migrants and refugees.

About 25 countries in Africa have a data protection law, but few have a data protection authority well-funded enough to enforce it

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