Taiwanese academics call for law regulating controversial digital ID

Scholars express concern over absence of regulatory framework for the eID scheme

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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) — Academics in Taiwan are calling for the enactment of regulations to govern the new generation of national electronic identification cards (eID), which had been set for a rollout in October, but have now been delayed by the coronavirus.

At a press conference Tuesday (May 12), the Taiwan Association of University Professors lashed out at the government for implementing the policy hastily and recklessly. With the lack of dialogue as well as unresolved issues such as data security and accountability, citizens will be exposed to high risks, the association said.

Ho Jan-ming (何建明), a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Information Science, raised alarms over security issues associated with the smart card, which has multiple uses. Frustrated by the government’s decision to push through the measure, he resigned from his position at the Cabinet’s Board of Science and Technology in April, wrote CNA.

Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津), professor at National Tsing Hua University Department of Electrical Engineering, questioned the justifications for collecting citizens’ digital footprint via the eID. He urged the establishment of an independent agency dedicated to protecting privacy.

The measure to phase out the old ID cards in favor of an electronic version has stirred controversy in several areas, from issues surrounding the card's design -- whether to include the national flag and cardholder's gender -- to information security concerns.

The release of the new eID this year has been hindered by the Wuhan virus (COVID-19), which has disrupted plans to import the equipment required to manufacture the smart card.