By Huang Hsin-po, Chen Yun and Jake Chung / Staff reporters, with staff writer
The Ministry of the Interior yesterday assured the nation that the upgraded national identification cards, called eIDs, would not track users’ activity, as there would be measures in place to render information on the cards untraceable.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Jason Hsu (許毓仁) and Lin Li-chan (林麗蟬) told a news conference earlier in the day that the eIDs are a ploy by the government to track citizens.
Academia Sinica associate researcher Chuang Ting-jui (莊庭瑞) and engineer Liu Yu-ting (劉宇庭) told the news conference that the chip model listed on the ministry’s tender documents is very susceptible to hacking and is invasive, as people could be tracked using it.
Hsu said the ministry should have allowed further public discussions to gather opinions on the eID before discussing chip models.
The project is in the public hearing phase and is scheduled to be implemented in October next year.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) claims not to be authoritarian, but is considering identification that is capable of tracking its citizens, Hsu said.
Hsu said Demosisto secretary-general Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) told him privately that the Hong Kong government is tracking its people using electronic identification.
To counter such tracking, identification cards are placed in sleeves, blocking any attempts to connect to the chip in the card, Hsu added.
The ministry’s inclusion of phrases such as “must include tracking systems” and “to track the chips” in the tender documents is concerning, Hsu said.
“If this is not the government tracking its citizens, then I do not know what is,” he said.
Lin said that the ministry’s move could take Taiwan back to the Martial Law era and demanded clarification from the ministry at this legislative session or she would freeze the budget.
The eID is an IC card that is only capable of confirming the identity of the holder, Department of Household Registration Director Chang Wan-yi (張琬宜) said.
Each card would have a unique identification and would be manufactured to meet the ISO-4443 standard and the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Chang said.
The Central Engraving and Printing Plant would, if approved by the ministry, archive production history of all eIDs to prevent theft, improper use or forgeries, Chang said.
By law, all government units cannot use eIDs for purposes other than the service required, Chang said, adding that any use of private information is regulated by the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).
The phrase about “tracking” in the official tender documents refers to tracking the cards’ manufacturing process, but the ministry would correct the wording to more accurately convey its meaning, Chang said.