The Korea Herald


Electronic ID card plan hits resistance

By 천성우

Published : June 23, 2011 - 20:05

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A controversial government plan to introduce electronic personal identification cards is unlikely to be realized as scheduled in 2013, faced with strong opposition from those fearing human rights infringements and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

A related government bill has yet to be submitted to a parliamentary committee for deliberation although a committee session was held recently, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security said on Thursday.

The delay made the bill’s passage in this month’s parliament impossible, and it also seems difficult to pass it through the regular legislative session in autumn.

The government has pushed for replacing all personal identification cards that have been issued up until now with electronic cards from 2013 in an effort to better protect people from rising crimes of identity theft and ID card forgery.

It has said the existing cards introduced more than 10 years ago are vulnerable to such crimes because they have personal identification numbers and fingerprints on the surface. But the electronic cards will be safer because they contain sensitive private information inside IC chips, officials said.

All South Koreans over 17 years can have the new ID cards. The cards will have only basic personal information such as names, dates of birth and photos printed on the surface, according to the government.

The government is also reportedly considering making the new ID cards replace medical insurance certificates, public transport tickets and banking cards in the future.

But some South Korean citizens are concerned that electronic identification cards can give an opportunity for total personal control by the government.

Human rights and religious groups have recently launched a signature-collecting campaign against the plan, claiming that the transition could infringe upon people’s rights. They say the plan would severely waste taxpayers’ money. 

(Yonhap News)