Lawsuit aims at pressing Taiwan's government to halt digital ID plan

Lawyers, human rights activists team up in suit against Ministry of Interior to demand explanations

Lawyers and human rights activists concerned with eID system (Facebook, Taiwan Association for Human Rights photo)

Lawyers and human rights activists concerned with eID system (Facebook, Taiwan Association for Human Rights photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A court battle began on Monday (Nov. 2) as Taiwan's privacy advocates pushed to know how their government will meticulously prevent personal data theft when it rolls out electronic ID (eID) cards nationwide next year.

Some authorities on cybersecurity in Taiwan have been opposed to the launch of the eID cards given how hackable similar cards in other countries have proven to be and in light of cyberattacks from China.

Led by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), over 50 professionals jointly filed suit against the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the authority responsible for issuing the new electronic national identification cards. The move is part of an initiative to fight for stronger data protection and privacy before the official launch.

The session was opened at the Taipei High Administrative Court on Monday. Another session will follow on Dec. 8, as the judges have asked for more documents from the MOI to support its claims of a safe system.

According to the country's Household Registration Act (戶籍法), all nationals will soon have to replace their traditional cards for a digital one. Those who do not file for a new digital card will find their existing ID invalid.

Lawyer Lin Yu-teng (林煜勝) explained that the civic group has chosen to enter into legal proceedings to press the MOI to clearly address the stated concerns.

"Until today, we had been unable to learn that the ministry has failed to respond to the stated concerns properly due to the lack of successful backup plans when it comes to information and national security issues. It also remains to be seen which authority is ultimately responsible for the shared data."

The national household registration system was recently said to be designed by Chinese programmers, an assertion later denied by the developer, International Integrated Systems Inc. (iisi). Groups are still calling for further investigation into the claim.

Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔), the vice general secretary of TAHR, said the government should immediately examine whether Chinese programmers have been involved in the project, as soon it will be too late.

Updated : 2021-01-22 14:22 GMT+08:00