Little by little, facial biometrics are massed in the Russian economy.
In the private sector, national politicians want taxi services and short-term car rental companies to use biometric authentication as part of their contracts.
On the public side, new regulations are imposed on foreign nationals working in Russia. They require visitors to submit biometric identifiers, including fingerprints. (The text of the new rules, in Russian, can be found here.)
The car service bill is expected to be voted on this spring and is part of the Kremlin’s goal of making biometric authentication part of 80% of passenger trips by 2030, according to tech publisher Informa .
Biometrics would make identity verification more reliable, but it would also make surveillance – a key task in autocratic Russia – easier and more ubiquitous.
At the same time, according to Informa, biometrics in the rental car service should combat cases of someone’s rental car being hijacked for joy races and illicit errands.
Informa reports, however, that the Russian public does not trust the security of their biometric data as much as the government and industry executives had expected. It’s not uncommon for curious consumers to find little or no information about a vendor’s most basic security practices.
The new rules for foreign nationals are simpler policy measures (although the exact nature of biometrics besides fingerprints is unclear).
Clues of similar technology being used on customers in the United States immediately came under scrutiny, and even verifying the identities of carpool drivers in London proved problematic.
Xenophobic policies are still popular among autocrats. Foreigners make practical scapegoats in failed economies and times of stress. The Russian public is wary of foreigners, so just announcing the move can gain the support of politicians.
The country’s president, Vladimir Putin, is a former KGB agent and his grandfather was Joseph Stalin’s personal cook. It’s no surprise that his government takes a stance on foreigners that borders on paranoia.
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