The Ministry of the Interior released statistics on Jan. 24 regarding replacement applications for new national ID cards, which it started compiling on Dec. 21, 2005, when a universal replacement of national ID cards occurred, until the end of last year. Over the course of 7 years, a total of 2,942,170 IDs were replaced. One Taipei resident in particular, nominally the nation’s “King of ID replacement,” applied for a new ID 40 times — an average of 6 times per year.
Hsieh Ai-ling, director of the ministry’s Department of Household Registration, says that according to the law, a person is eligible to replace a national ID card if it is lost, damaged or stolen, the first reason being the most common. The reasons for damaged or stolen IDs can include a person’s ID being stolen along with their wallet, an ID being damaged in a fire, or someone dropping it into a river and not being able to retrieve it.
Have there been any concerns whether the person who applied to replace his ID 40 times was a criminal? Is it against the law for household registration agencies to do background checks through police stations or financial institutions? Hsieh says that they do mark an individual as being worth monitoring if they apply an exorbitant number of times.
The statistics show that only two individuals have applied for ID replacements more than 30 times, one in Taipei and the other in New Taipei City, while a total of 15 have people applied more than 20 times, with three each in Taipei, New Taipei City, Greater Taichung, and Taoyuan County, and one each in Greater Kaohsiung, Hualien County and Hsinchu City.
After splitting up the numbers according to municipality and county, the city with the highest number of ID replacement applications was New Taipei City (523,732), followed by Taipei (361,509) and Greater Kaohsiung (349,285), respectively.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang says that since the Personal Information Protection Act went into effect on Oct. 1 last year, people in both the public and private sectors have been more concerned about protecting their personal information than before. In order to protect people from identity theft, the ministry added a 24-hour service system to its 1996 Hotline of Interior Affairs for reporting lost national ID cards, which can also be used in the same way when an ID is recovered.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)