Biometric ID Card, new questions evolving...

June 3, 2015

Alain Bertrand posted some questions on my Facebook wall asking for my opinion regarding the new decisions about the Mauritius National Identity Card. To make the same available to a larger audience I opted to post it on my blog.

Mauritius Biometric ID Card Project

I haven’t yet looked at the technicalities tossed by the Government following the recent court ruling on Madhewoo vs State. There have been “rumours” that the Government will drop the database of fingerprint images and bring important changes to the Biometric ID Card project. I call them rumours since I could not find cabinet decisions on the matter at the time of writing. Press articles do not cite a proper Government source. Hence it is difficult to verify.

My opinion right now would be such:

Previously, MNIC was storing fingerprints minutiae (which cannot be reversed to a fingerprint itself) in the memory chip of your ID Card and your actual fingerprint images were stored in a database at the Government Online Centre. This is what was told.

With the new “rumours” (since I haven’t seen any technicalities published on, the database of fingerprint images will be dropped. What about the capturing of the minutiae?

At the time of registration for the new ID Card, you are asked to collect your card after approximately 2 weeks. Am I right? So, where does your “minutiae” wander during those 2 weeks. How are they transferred, where are they kept (even temporarily) and what happens to the “local” copy once it’s put on the chip of the ID Card?

A minutiae cannot be reverted back to a fingerprint but it can still be used for matching purposes against fingerprints. Therefore, I still do not have a guarantee whether my fingerprint minutiae are stored within a Government-owned (or any third-party) database. Neither I have seen anything so far that guarantees me any protection from a misuse of my minutiae for the purpose of matching & identification without my consent.