Monday, May 28, 2012

National ID Card

All Hong Kong residents aged 11 or over are required to register for an identity card. The card is provided by the Hong Kong Immigration Office.

Actually, most of the world's countries have some form of mandatory ID card (different from the passport) and it is baffling that Canada has yet to have one. Well, actually, commonwealth countries seem to be resistant to the idea in some form of misplaced "big brother" fear concept.

The benefits are numerous and the card is another testimony to Hong Kong's efficiency:
- Can be used for individual clearance, which makes going through airport custom a breeze
- Makes interaction with all government entities much faster as there are no needs to produce multiple different proof of ID.
- Can be used by external systems such as the library system and avoid card clutter
- Water/heat resistant so it is very resilient
- Makes identity theft harder

Additional benefits in Canada:
- Would make US borders crossing faster as the bio-metrics could be processed automatically
- Reduce borders custom costs as it could be automated rather that have agents that are mostly doing the same routine all the time (hi, read, scan, stamp, thank you. At a slow pace)
- Merge all the various type of Canadian ID system (Permanent Resident's Card ("Maple Leaf Card"), the Citizenship Card, Social Insurance Number card, birth certificate, and why not, driver's licence and health cards). So, in theory, while there would be initial setup costs, the long-term costs should be lower than maintaining all those separate ID systems
- Authenticate a person's entitlement to government services
- Make voting registry simpler and faster

Data that is stored on the HK ID card:
- Holder's name in English and Chinese
- Age group (11-17, >17) and HKSAR Re-entry Permit illegibility.
- Date of birth
- Sex
- Date of registration

- Immigration status
- Birthplace details
- Holder's picture
- Holder's thumbprints bio-metrics
- ID number
- Commercial code (if any)