Is Google better than normal ID?

A friend recently used Google to prove her identity at a bank.
Reuters

A friend recently used Google to prove her identity at a bank.

OPINION: In the past few weeks, I've heard two stories about people trying to prove who they are after losing their ID.

The first incident involved two passports, a few heated words and a call to the police. The second involved using Google to check someone's identity.

It's a hassle replacing your driver's licence, and one reader recently recounted how a friend endured a long wait and what they called bad logic at an AA office.

The friend turned up with two passports (dual citizen), an overseas driver's licence and a birth certificate and got frustrated when the clerk also demanded a piece of mail with an address. An argument started and the police were called, but before it got too messy, the friend used their phone to go online to find a bank statement with their address.

Technology was more of a factor in the second story.

A friend recently lost her credit card and managed to convince her bank to use Google to confirm her identity.

It was easy for the bank to find her by doing a search and there were plenty of mentions and photos.

I'm not sure if this is the bank's policy, but it was a practical solution.

In some situations Google is as good at identifying people as standard ID or security questions. It's hard to argue with photos from established sources.

However, while this is convenient, it is, of course, risky. 

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But I think it won't be long before we won't need passports or birth certificates to prove who we are.

Technology will fill that gap, but it will be a little more sophisticated that doing a search on Google. It will be more like the movie Minority Report.

Most of the technology already exists and many of us use it every day.

Imagine if your bank used a fingerprint scanner and photo recognition to confirm the identity of customers. Many smartphones have scanners and most photo editing software and some social networks have the ability to recognise faces.

Other forms of biometric identification include retina scans and voice recognition.

India has started using the technology to create a national ID programme for its 1.2 billion citizens, as part of a move to a paperless system.

This may be practical but it poses a whole range of privacy and civil liberty issues.

In New Zealand, I hope we can find a balance between the convenience of technology and respecting people's rights so we can one day stop carrying around paper IDs. 

 - Stuff

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