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Home Affairs seeks public comments over new ID management draft policy

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A home affairs office is pictured in Alberton, South of Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

In keeping with the government’s so-called fourth industrial revolution (4IR) endeavours, the Department of Home Affairs is building a digital national identity system (NIS), which it says will be inclusive, secure, accurate, confidential, and responsive.

This has prompted the department to draft the Official Identity Management Policy, which is open for public comment until 28 February.

Department spokesperson Siya Qoza said interested parties could submit their written comments to [email protected]

In the draft policy, the department said it was important to modernize its identity management system because continuing to rely on a manual one “poses a serious risk to the accuracy of the population register”.

One of the challenges the draft policy aims to deal with is the fraudulent selling of birth certificates of deceased children, whose deaths were not reported to the department, to foreign nationals.

This will be dealt with by capturing a child’s “biometrics when their births are registered to reliably verify their identities during subsequent interactions with the department and other institutions”.

Biometric data is defined as measurable biological or behavioural characteristics of a person that can be used to determine or to verify their identity. This includes face, fingerprints, and voice.

The department developed the policy with these objectives in mind:

  • Enable an inclusive digital population register that is secure, accurate, and confidential
  • Position the department as the sole provider of official documentation relating to the identity of civic and international migration status of citizens and foreign nationals within South Africa’s territorial jurisdiction
  • Position the department as the sole provider of official identity and civic status verification services
  • Establish rules that govern accessing and processing population register records and data in line with relevant policies and legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information Act and the Cybercrimes Bill
  • Establish the NIS to generate critical data needed for e-government and e-commerce to function
  • Enable an application for department services via multiple channels

The entire draft policy can be seen here.

-The Citizen