Interpol chief calls for global electronic identity card system

The head of INTERPOL has emphasized the need for a globally verifiable electronic identity card (e-ID) system for migrant workers at an international forum on citizen ID projects, e-passports, and border control management.

Speaking at the fourth Annual EMEA ID WORLD summit, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said that regulating migration levels and managing borders presented security challenges for countries and for the world that INTERPOL was ideally-placed to help address.

“At a time when global migration is reaching record levels, there is a need for governments to put in place systems at the national level that would permit the identity of migrants and their documents to be verified internationally via INTERPOL,” said Secretary General Noble.

“The vast majority of migrants are law-abiding citizens who would like to have their identities verified in more than one country using the same identity document. If countries were to issue work and residence permits in an e-ID format that satisfied common standards internationally, then both the migrant workers and the countries themselves would benefit because efficiencies would improve, security at the national and global level would improve and corruption would be reduced.”

The ID WORLD forum heard that such a card required developing a mechanism whereby the biometric identity features of migrants, such as fingerprints and DNA, would be checked systematically against global databases.

“INTERPOL currently helps member countries screen travel documents of international air travelers approximately one-half a billion times a year. It would be a natural extension of this service to assist member countries in determining whether bearers of a globally verified identity card were in possession of a valid identity document or are wanted internationally for arrest via INTERPOL at the time that they applied for a work or residence permit,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

“Issuing migrant workers e-ID cards in a globally verifiable format will also reduce corruption and enable cardholders to be eligible for electronic remittance schemes that will foster greater economic development and prosperity in INTERPOL member countries,” concluded Secretary General Noble.

Key speakers at the ID WORLD forum included Pakistan’s Minister of Interior Rehman Malik, World Bank Integrity Vice-President Leonard McCarthy, European Commission Head of International Affairs, Directorate General Home Affairs, Luigi Soreca, the UAE’s Head of Identity Authority, Ali Al Khouri, and Tariq Malik of Pakistan’s National Database & Registration Authority.

For more insight into this topic, read our interview on the importance of identity in the digital age.

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