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Kinks and Bias in Kenya’s New Biometric System

In an ambitious new initiative, the Kenyan government is planning to assign each citizen a unique identification number that will be required to go to school, get health care and housing, register to vote, get married and obtain a driver’s license, bank account and even a mobile phone number. In preparation, nearly 40 million Kenyans have already had their fingerprints and faces scanned by a new biometric system that ramped up last spring. But millions of ethnic, racial and religious minorities are running into obstacles and facing additional scrutiny when they apply for the documents required to get a biometric ID. Many have faced outright rejection. Now the biometric ID plan is being challenged in court by civil rights organizations, which say it is disenfranchising members of minority groups.