The Hsinchu City Government yesterday announced that it would likely delay a trial of the new national electronic identification card (eID) after privacy groups and city councilors said that city residents should not made into government “lab rats.”
“Our No. 1 priority is our residents and the security of their data. If the central government cannot reassure us about the information security concerns, this government will be inclined to delay the pilot program,” the statement said.
“The city government has heard the voices of many citizens and experts who expressed concerns and made suggestions about the eID program, as we continue to communicate with the central government,” it said.
Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times
The city’s Department of Civil Affairs had told the public that it should not worry about the security of the cards because a password is required to view personal data, such as the cardholder’s address and family members’ names, stored on the chip.
The cards would not contain medical data and they would be more difficult to counterfeit than conventional cards, it said.
However, at a news conference yesterday, advocacy groups and opposition councilors urged Hsinchu residents to opt out of the eID trial, which the Ministry of the Interior had planned to begin next month.
The Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Amnesty International Taiwan, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the New Power Party (NPP) and the Taiwan Statebuilding Party were among those that participated.
Hsinchu City Councilor Liao Tzu-chi (廖子齊) of the NPP said that the ministry lacked the legal authority to issue or test the cards, as the legislature did not authorize them through a new law or amendment.
More care should also have been exercised in making the technology more secure, Liao said.
There is no such thing as risk-free information technology and the card should not feature a design that places all of an individual’s information on a single chip, she added.
“As it stands, the Taiwanese government is drawing a huge target over the [eID card] database and inviting attacks by hackers and state-level cyberbrigades,” she said.
The ministry did not clearly inform the public about the eID project or furnish them with a proper overview of the Hsinchu pilot, said Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔), who is one of 60 plaintiffs suing the government over the cards.
“Given the ministry’s lack of respect for citizens’ autonomy and its lack of legal authority — and especially the information security risks — Hsinchu residents should refuse to be lab rats in the eID trial,” he said.
The Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s Hsinchu chapter said that it would organize street protests.
There are no legally defined penalties for leaking eID data, it added.
“The decision to run the pilot in Hsinchu shows a complete disregard for the data security of the city’s residents,” it said.
In a news release written on behalf of the card’s opponents, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights said that the ministry initially chose Hsinchu, Penghu County and several districts in New Taipei City for the pilot, but that all of the jurisdictions except Hsinchu declined.
Later yesterday, the ministry said that the eID program is a key policy of the Executive Yuan and that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has promised the Legislative Yuan that the program would only go forward after cybersecurity concerns have been fully resolved.
Additional reporting by Huang Hsin-po
INCURSION: After 13 PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s ADIZ, the US Department of State said that China should rather ‘engage in meaningful dialogue’ with Taiwan US President Joe Biden’s administration on Saturday urged China to stop placing military pressure on Taiwan, while calling on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in peaceful dialogue. The statement by the US Department of State was issued after 13 Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, the highest number observed in a single day this year, the Ministry of National Defense said. The air force scrambled fighter jets to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense assets until the planes left the ADIZ. The US “notes
‘INCREASED VIGILANCE’: A source of infection has not yet been found for the latest two cases in a hospital cluster, which should serve as a warning, Chen Shih-chung said A total of 2,991 people associated with a COVID-19 cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital have been put under home isolation, after an emergency expanded isolation order was issued on Sunday evening, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Fifteen people have so far tested positive in the cluster infection. The first case in the cluster (case No. 838) was reported on Jan. 12 — a doctor who treated an infected patient who had returned from the US. Contact tracing for the first 13 cases found connections to case No. 838, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who
CHANGE OF GUARD: Hsiao Bi-khim’s attendance at Joe Biden’s inauguration will come as a boost to those in Taiwan who feared that the new US administration would be less friendly than that of Donald Trump to the nation Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to attend US President Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony at the US Capitol after she was invited by the US Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a news release issued by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US said last night. The news came as a surprise as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been reticent about the matter, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members had accused the Democratic Progressive Party administration of hedging its bets on the Republican Party. Asked about when Hsiao received the invitation, the ministry did not
FAMILY UNIT: The CECC warned that the eldest sister of the latest case, who also has COVID-19, visited Taoyuan’s Chungping evening market on Tuesday and Wednesday The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a domestic case of COVID-19, associated with a recent cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital, and two imported cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the latest case (No. 885) is a woman in her 50s, who is the third daughter of case No. 881, a man in his 90s. The woman is the main caregiver of her elderly father, who had been hospitalized earlier this month and was treated by a nurse (case No. 852) from Monday to Thursday last week, he said, adding that