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Turks embrace biometric data for new ID card system [Anadolu Agency (Turkey)]
[November 11, 2014]

Turks embrace biometric data for new ID card system [Anadolu Agency (Turkey)]

(Anadolu Agency (Turkey) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Next month's roll-out of a 'smart' ID card will be the sixth change in national identity system in Turkey since Ottoman era By Sare Selvi Ozturk ISTANBUL Turkey is set to introduce new biometric identity cards in December – the sixth change in the country's national ID system since Ottoman times.

Next month's roll-out of a compulsory biometric system will end the present different-colored card system – pink for women and blue for men – which Turks have been using for almost 40 years.

While many countries today do not require their citizens to carry ID cards, for Turkey this is just the latest evolution of a well-established identity system. The first Turkish IDs were issued in 1882 and contained essential details such as height, eye color – or whether men wore mustache or beard.

Next month's change takes place against a backdrop of much more modern concerns. As society becomes more conscious about identity theft and hacking, the new cards have created a debate about the security of storing personal data.

Proponents say the electronic ID cards' biometric elements will reduce the possibility of misidentification, allow citizens to carry out a number of banking transactions and access online services through e-signatures.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in October sa id that the cards would ease bureaucratic procedures regarding births and changes in names and address.

Erkan Tugrul, technical manager of IT security company ESET, sa id this can be seen as a step towards a fully integrated 'e-government' application process.

"Turkey's new ID card will even enable people to do shopping with a card reader. It will also allow people to have administrative processes conducted faster and easier," Tugrul says.

The new ID cards will first be used in the fields of health and social security and will be renewed every 10 years. The General Directorate on Population and Citizenship Affairs will be responsible for the distribution of the cards nationwide.

Technology consultant, Ali Riza Babaoglan, says Turkish people have had difficulties having their cards recognized abroad, claiming that the new device will bring Turkey's ID into line with other identity cards across the world.

Rejecting claims that storing biometric information will cause privacy problems, Babaoglan says fingerprints are already recorded when citizens apply for passports at police stations.

" Turkey needs this kind of modern smart ID card. This would also contribute to country's fight against terrorism. But it is important how this system will be operated and where all this information is stored," he adds.

Nevertheless, the new smart ID cards – combining fingerprint and palm vein print data – has also raised eyebrows, leading to public concerns over privacy of information.

Ferhat Unlu, a columnist specializing in intelligence issues for the Turkish 'Sabah' newspaper, says this change is collecting citizens' characteristic features in state archives rather than just being a mere change of plastic cards.

He notes that a foreign software company is in charge of preparing the ID cards, adding that this situation would pose a threat to national security as well as privacy in a way the public could not imagine in the long term.

"This biometric information could pave the way for cyber-crimes in a case where data fall into the wrong hands," he says.

Unlu acknowledges that Turkey needs a new ID card but one which is in collaboration with local and governmental institutions and which will protect the information security of Turkish people.

Developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, the pilot program for new smart ID cards has been implemented in Bolu district of central Turkey for the last five years.

Almost two million people are expected to get their new ID cards by the end of 2014. The distribution process will be finished in three years. The cost of the new card will be 18 Turkish Lira ($8).  (c) 2014 Andolu Ajansi Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (

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