may go scot-free if authorities purely rely on the scanner’s findings. False positive occurs when a person’s biometrics incorrectly matches those of another person’s. This usually results in the person’s being wrongly accused of committing crimes. For their part, ID system supporters believe that this can be minimized by applying more stringent procedures in matching.
The huge cost entailed in implementing an ID system is the usual constraint faced by countries, especially those from the developing world such as the Philippines. It is estimated that implementing an ID system in the Philippines would cost P1.6 billion, according to computations by the Office of Representative Teddy Casiño. However, this is a conservative estimate considering that the proposal covers only the labor force. Moreover, the estimate covers only the cost of the ID and does not include the administrative costs such as the maintenance of the database, cost of registration, and the funds necessary to fix the unconsolidated databases of government employees (World Bank et al., 2003). Some proposals in the Senate offer conservative budgetary allocation for an ID system ranging from P20 million to P500 million. Even the cost of implementing EO 420 is not clear. What it says is that the budget will be sourced from budgets of participating agencies.
Ensuring effective implementation and the integrity of an ID system will require huge costs. The government should have a firm cost estimate for this project if it is bent on making an ID system work. Based on other country experiences, the cost can be prohibitive for a cash-strapped government. In the United States alone, the cost estimate of their ID system is about $17.4 billion within its ten-year phased implementation (French, 2005). Ultimately, the cost of an ID system depends on the level of technology, the coverage and system specifications.
The most commonly used reason for having a national ID system is that it reduces government red tape and makes the delivery of public services more efficient. An ID system is particularly useful in public transactions involving a huge segment of the population such as voting and benefits availment. Studies however argue that an ID system may in fact disenfranchise a significant segment of the population. According to Demos, a public interest group in the US, a state law requiring voter identification based on driver’s license in Indiana, Georgia and Arizona resulted in the disenfranchisement of people who do not possess motor vehicles or do not drive such as the disabled and the elderly. It is also difficult to see how an ID system can minimize fraud in voting and social security benefits availment if the endemic problems of the bureaucracy (overlapping of functions, lack of careerism, etc.) are unresolved. Interestingly, New Zealand, the country that is regarded as having one of the most efficient bureaucracies in the world, has no ID system in place.
Legal and Policy Environment
Aside from budgetary issues, the legal and policy environment must be adequately prepared to implement an ID system. In the Philippines the 1987 Constitution’s concept of privacy leans more on the citizen’s right to privacy in one’s abode than privacy of one’s personal information. The only laws that can be cited that somehow protects citizens against government intrusion in one’s affairs are the decades-old Bank Secrecy and Anti-Wiretapping laws. Hence, should the government proceed with the planned ID system, Congress should pass a Privacy Law similar to that in the United States and a Data Protection Act such as in the United Kingdom to protect citizens rights over their personal information.