Kyrgyzstan Introduces Biometric Passport Program to a Skeptical Public

The government of Kyrgyzstan has introduced a biometric passport, which has been greeted with a heap of skepticism from the country’s citizens, according to a Global Voices article by Dasha Kondrateva. The population is thought to be highly suspicious of the government, which is believed to be corrupt and to have totalitarian leanings.

The country’s “notoriously corrupt State Registry Service (SRS)” has in some cases failed to properly equip its biometric registry points even as it has pressured all citizens to enroll. Meanwhile, the government has assured citizens that their biometric data will be securely encrypted and that its staff have been well-trained.

While biometric screening offers many benefits, it may be in this case that Kyrgyzstan’s government is simply trying to satisfy its Central Asian neighbours, which have already adopted the technology for security screening purposes. This has been the case in Ukraine, whose government has been fast-tracking such measures in order to satisfy the European Union; while governments such as India have introduced biometric registries of their own accord in order to better secure and administrate their countries.

A similar initiative has been in discussion in Australia, where it has also come against some vocal concerns about the protection of civil rights, though in the case of Kyrgyzstan there may be a stronger basis for such concerns, given the government’s reputation.

November 24, 2014 – by Alex Perala