Taiwan to postpone digital ID scheme due to coronavirus

Plans to roll out eID disrupted by Wuhan coronavirus, hampering importation of equipment and technologies

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Suggested versions for Taiwan's new ID card (Ministry of the Interior images)

Suggested versions for Taiwan's new ID card (Ministry of the Interior images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan will hold off on the plan to roll out a new generation national electronic identification cards (eID) as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The country was set to begin phasing out the old ID cards in October, but the introduction of relevant technologies from abroad has been derailed by the virus outbreak, said the Ministry of the Interior (MOI). Currently, Taiwan lacks the anti-counterfeit expertise required for the digital ID, wrote UDN.

According to the MOI, the equipment for manufacturing the eID needs to be imported and the authorities were planning to retrieve the first batch of sample cards in April, but these plans have been disrupted by the spread of COVID-19.

Addressing public concerns over information security, the MOI stressed that residents would be allowed to select an eID design without the Citizen Digital Certificate feature or have it deactivated and revoked. The Citizen Digital Certificate is an online ID that allows people to use various government services without leaving their homes.

Production of the smart cards would be delegated to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest semiconductor factory, with the main chip boasting military-grade, Evaluation Assurance Level security (EAL) 5+ standards, it added.

In addition, the source code of the identification system would be made available to the public while the software involved would be subject to data security tests. Trial runs would also be conducted in selected cities and counties, while bounty events would be held to identify any flaws that exist in the system.

More than a hundred individuals from information technology, law, and other fields have participated in a petition against the introduction of the eID, reported TechNews.Their main concern lies in the security risks of the multipurpose smart card and the signatories are calling for a designated task force to deal with related issues and a law drafted specifically for regulating the new ID.