With the intention of producing a National Identity Management System (NIMS), 13 million Nigerians will be issued with eID cards. The cards will hold highly sensitive information including; health insurance status, tax information, driver licensing, birth and death records, and there plans to use the cards for border control.
Perhaps most disturbingly, the card will also function as a payment method and are backed by Mastercard and will hold biometric information including 10 fingerprints and a retinal scan. Along side the biometric data, the invasive cards will carry two photographs of the holder.
Chris ‘E Onyemenam, director general of the commission which will implement NIMS, said:
“There are many use cases for the card, including the potential to use it as an international travel document,” Onyemenam said. “NIMC is focused on inclusive citizenship, more effective governance, and the creation of a cashless economy, all of which will stimulate economic growth, investment and trade.”
Privacy International‘s legal officer, Anna Crowe, spoke out against the cards:
“Centralising and combining government databases makes it easy to link together pieces of information about an individual and build a near complete picture of someone’s life.
“This type of capability is extremely invasive. The crucial issue is to put in place safeguards that guarantee fundamental principles of data protection are being respected, such as only using data for the purposes for which it was collected. This is extremely challenging for any country, let alone one that already faces significant challenges around corruption and ensuring respect for human rights.
“National ID schemes can prove problematic in many respects, but commercialisation of such a scheme raises additional, and serious, questions. What does Mastercard and the bank’s involvement entail? Will data be shared for commercial gain? How can Nigerians be confident that their right to privacy is being upheld?
“When you register to vote you are doing so for a specific purpose – to be able exercise your rights – not to see your information handed on to a private company without your consent or knowledge.”