There are 128 nations that use chip-embedded or digital identification cards, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Li Meng-yen (李孟諺) said yesterday in defense of the planned introduction of a new national electronic identification card (eID).
“Taiwan must move forward,” Li told reporters following a regular Cabinet meeting in Taipei.
Responding to criticism over potential security loopholes, Li said that the nation is falling behind other countries that have already gone digital.
Taiwan still uses non-digital national IDs, but has used chip-embedded National Health Insurance cards and passports for years, he said.
As for data security, citizens would be able to decide whether their eID would only be used for identification, or be linked with their Citizen Digital Certificate, Li said.
The Cabinet would also conduct a comprehensive information security evaluation based on next year’s planned trial rollout of the new cards for residents in Hsinchu City, Penghu County and parts of New Taipei City, he added.
Li invited experts to challenge the system during the pilot program, after which adjustments would be made before implementing the eIDs nationwide.
“The government has been exhaustive regarding information security,” he said.
People need not worry about contactless card readers being able to pull information from the eID, as such a function is not included in the cards, he said.
The cards would need to be inserted into a reader, rendering it impossible for any sort of detector to steal personal data, whether illicitly or accidentally, Li added.
However, lawmakers, including some of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have raised concerns about the plan.
DPP legislators Fan Yun (范雲), Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳), Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純), Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) and others on Tuesday hosted a news conference on eID security at the Legislative Yuan with the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
The participants called on the government to suspend its plans to establish an independent information protection agency and impose regulations to ensure that people’s privacy is prioritized.
Concerns have been raised about the card manufacturer’s relationship with the Chinese government, exposing apparent dangers in issuing the new cards, Fan said.
However, existent laws, privacy protection regulations and oversight mechanisms are grossly inadequate to handle the system, potentially exposing the nation to a breach in security, she added.
Fan said that she first raised these concerns in March with the National Development Council, which said it was consulting experts on revisions to the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).
Despite a clear need for revisions, there are no signs of progress, she said.
The Ministry of the Interior still wants to issue the eIDs in July, Fan said, criticizing the government for going about things in the wrong order.
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