India is equipping its sailors with a Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID) with facial biometrics embedded in the card’s chip. Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya handed out five cards during a press conference announcing the new IDs, and the country itself plans to hand out 15,000 more on an annual basis. At the moment, there are more than 200,000 Indian citizens working on ships around the world.
The new identity cards make India the first country to provide its seafarers with such a document. To distribute the cards, India has set up nine enrollment centers, where Indian seafarers will have their faces captured and then matched against a passport photo to optically secure them with micro prints and texts and a unique guilloche pattern.
The solution leverages Public Key Infrastructure for facial capture and authentication, and is being pitched as a more reliable form of ID when compared to other biometric modalities. The new cards will include biographic and demographic information about each individual, all of which will be stored on a national database that will be accessible internationally.
If the system catches on, the facial biometric cards could become a new standard for Aadhaar, India’s biometric national ID program, especially since many of the platform’s current solutions rely on fingerprint or iris recognition. However, it is worth noting that the Indian Supreme Court recently ruled that Aadhaar could not be used as a requirement for many goods and services, and that Indian privacy advocates have expressed concern about the widespread use of facial recognition tech in the country.
August 29, 2019 – by Eric Weiss