Several civic groups yesterday called on opposition parties to hold their ground on freezing the funding for planned new national electronic identification cards, saying that the cards could pose information security risks for Taiwanese.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should be mindful of the risks that the cards pose to people’s basic rights and refrain from hastily passing a budget, the groups said.
The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday agreed to hold extraordinary meetings until Wednesday next week, with marathon sessions running through today and tomorrow.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Taiwan Association for Human Rights deputy secretary-general Ho Ming-hsuan (何明諠) cited sources as saying that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus favors freezing the budget for the cards, while the People First Party (PFP) and the New Power Party (NPP) are in favor of reducing it.
During two question-and-answer sessions in May and September last year, opposition and some DPP legislators called into question “glaring” inadequacies in laws regarding the protection of personal information, Ho said.
Critics have called for legislative amendments to mitigate risks of exposing private information, while the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of the Interior maintained that current regulations would suffice, Ho said.
“Such statements are simply appeasing the Legislative Yuan when in fact the ministry is intending to ram the bill past the legislature,” Ho said, adding that the action was deplorable.
Open Culture Foundation president Lee Po-feng (李柏鋒) said that while the Executive Yuan’s National Development Council has said that the cards are for identification purposes and would allow Taiwanese to access digital government services, it has failed to clarify how the resulting digital footprint would be handled.
Lee said he was confused as to the DPP’s apparent about-face over the issue, citing the example of DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming’s (柯建銘) objection to the then-Research, Development and Evaluation Commission’s national identification card project in 1998 on grounds of a lack of legal oversight.
Lee also cited the example of DPP Secretary-General Luo Wen-jia’s (羅文嘉) opposition to EasyCard vending machines being installed at elementary and junior-high schools in Taipei, citing information security concerns.
Taiwan Democracy Watch member Tu Yu-yin (涂予尹) said that the controversy over applicable uses of the planned card has far exceeded the parameters of the Household Registration Act (戶籍法) and contravenes the spirit of Council of Grand Justices Constitutional Interpretation No. 603.
Tu also said that there is no competent authority to oversee the implementation of the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法), which should be addressed.
Taiwan Forever Association secretary Peng Chih-cheng (彭至誠) said that the Household Registration Act has no reference to chipped identification cards or protection regarding personal information.
The act also lacks regulation, review standards for information generated by the use of chipped identification cards and legal procedures, which could lead to a contravention of the principles of legal reservation and legal certainty, Peng said.
Contracting outside sources to make chip-embedded identification cards could lead to duplication and people’s information being leaked to China, Peng added.
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