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Privacy News Science Technology Your Rights Online

Refugees Rely On Biometrics To Receive Aid, Even As Privacy Concerns Loom (dailydot.com) 43

New submitter Selena Larson writes: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) rolled out a pilot program for refugees this week that connects biometric data directly to points of sale and enables people to buy groceries with an iris scan. The computerized system communicates with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which keeps a database of biometric data collected from refugees around the world. If the individual is confirmed to be a refugee in Jordan, based on their iris scan, a bank the organization works with approves the transaction.
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Refugees Rely On Biometrics To Receive Aid, Even As Privacy Concerns Loom

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @03:56PM (#51549477)

    It's not like they're the ones coming to *US* asking for help, or that they're populated with at least some potential terrorists, or anything.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      This doesn't seem aimed at wrongdoing by refugees (terrorism-related or otherwise), but rather at locals trying to get free food, with refugee biometrics/privacy being sort of collateral damage. The UNHCR has a database of refugees in Jordan (for example), and wants to use biometric data to tell them apart from local, non-refugee Jordanians, so that only the refugees can get food aid.

      I can see why they want that for ease of bookkeeping (harder to forge biometrics than refugee papers, etc.), but this is just

      • In the US some states use an EBT card for things like food stamps and cash assistance. I have rarely seen an ID check when those are used... but it would be a lot harder to use the iris of another person.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by klapek ( 4200769 )
      In Europe majority of refugees or "refugees" have lost all their ids but not their iphones. Another funny fact is that many of them claim to be minors, being a bit too tall or overall big for their age [foreignpolicy.com].
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        We just finished dealing with one here in Canada, who was living in the US and are in the process of shipping him back. His parents of course are well-off living in Egypt and have paid not once(from Egypt to the US) but twice(US to Canada) to try and get a claim in. Not only are countries dealing with "I'm a 14yr old boy..." when they're 25. They're also dealing with refugee shoppers.

        • For as long as I can remember there has been a camp for illegal immigrants (who want to get into the UK) in Calais, and France doesnt give a toss because if they did something then they would have to either accept those immigrants or deport them. While they are undeclared in those camps, they arent Frances problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Get your freshly scooped out eyeballs here! Best prices in the camp!

  • Biometrics: It's all fun and games... until someone loses an eye.

  • Wouldn't it be cheaper to just tattoo a bar code onto everyone's hand or forehead? Maybe use an ink the is only visible under UV or IR?

    That way when the refugees get to go home or end up settling in someplace new they can get the tattoo removed, or not. But it wouldn't be as big a privacy risk as a retina scan or other biometric that can't be changed when it gets compromised.
  • Living in a modern society where we have multiple ways to prove who we are when asked we loose sight of one of the basic problems refugees face: being able to prove who they are and what country they come from.

    For a refugee who is having a hard time proving who they are, privacy concerns are a moot point. An iris scan that can give them food in store like food distribution center is far better than waiting in line and hoping there will be food available when the get to the head of the line.

    This is very sim

    • There are also refugees deathly frightened of their old governments tracking and killing them, and especially for those fleeing genocidal or religious persecution. We saw it before with Rwandan refugees, where the Tutsis were murdered wholesale by Hutus. We saw it Iraq, where the Kurds were slaughtered in the Anfal cmpaign, and refugees _were_ hunted in exile. Even in the US, centralized documentation as found in the records of citizenship applications and birth records was used against the Nisei, citizens

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