Hong Kong Govt Pushes Multi-Purpose Smart ID Card

Hong Kong Govt Pushes Multi-Purpose Smart ID Card – Government Activity

Adam Creed

The Hong Kong Government says that in spite of serious privacy issues Hong Kong citizens “are generally in support” of a new “smart” identity card that it wants to issue to all residents in the special administrative region by 2003.

The Hong Kong Government has applied for funding for the project – which has been valued at HK$3.06 billion (US$392.36 million) in total – and is working on introducing legislative amendments into the Legislative Council by the end of 2001.

The ID card would be embedded with a silicon chip, with the possibility of additional personal financial applications on top of the identity and immigration function.

The Government says a new card is necessary in the first place as the computer system supporting old ID cards is becoming antiquated. Further it wants to introduce a “smart” ID card that offers more protection against forgery and allows secure authentication of the card holder’s identity.

Top beneficiary of the new card would be the Immigration Department, which can check validity and update temporary residents’ conditions of stay electronically. It is also being touted as a way to introduce an automated passenger clearance system in future.

But further applications on the single card are being explored, including: authentication and access to Government services online; the inclusion of digital certificates for secure electronic transactions; and the use of capacity on the card for an electronic purse for financial transactions.

The concept of a single card that contains confidential information about identity and immigration status, and which may also add financial transaction details raises data privacy concerns. At the least, citizens would demand that one application on the ID card cannot access data from another.

In October 2000, the Government commissioned consultants to recommend privacy and safety measures. Among the recommendations were that a multi-purpose smart card system should be used that guarantees separation of uses from each other, so that immigration data on a card will be protected from access by other service providers and vice versa.

This week, a spokesman added that the Government is in ongoing contact with its Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data regarding the project.

In a statement, the Hong Kong Government said that the first phase of the project is to cost HK$747.04 million ($95.77 million).

Exchange Rate: $1 = HK$7.80

Reported By Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .

19:44 CST Reposted 19:45 CST


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