Governing by identity describes the emerging regime of a globalizing, mobile world. Governance depends on identification but identification increasingly depends on biometrics. This ‘solution’ to difficulties of verification is described and some technical weaknesses are discussed. The role of biometrics in classification systems is also considered and is shown to contain possible prejudice in relation to racialized criteria of identity. Lastly, the culture of biometric identification is shown to be limited to abstract data, artificially separated from the lived experience of the body including the orientation to others. It is proposed that creators of national ID systems in particular address these crucial deficiencies in their attempt to provide new modes of verification.