Is it possible for the Government to connect a driver’s license, NSSF and NHIF cards, tax PIN, national ID (or passport), photo, fingerprints and mobile number to one identity, based on a single card?
Yes, it is possible. Malaysia has done it.
Through myKad, the Asian country became the first one in the world to collapse an individual’s holistic profile (passport photo, biometric and government-issued credentials) to one smart card. The cards are of four types:
- MyKid – for Malaysian citizens under the age of 12 including new-borns (non-compulsory);
- MyPR – for Malaysian Permanent Residents;
- MyTentera – for Malaysian Armed Forces personnel; and
- MyPolis – for Royal Malaysian Police personnel.
The MyKad project was intended to have four functions:
- Identity card, incorporating data on fingerprints, postal address, location address, photo and conventional passport number, if any;
- Driver’s licence;
- Travel document in Malaysia and several neighbouring countries. However, a conventional passport is still required for international travel. The card is also aimed at reducing congestion at the border by enabling the use of unmanned gates using biometric (fingerprint) identification.
- Storage of health information (e.g. blood group – which is key to establish quickly in the event of, say car accidents, insurance memberships, etc.).
Four further applications were added during its initial release:
- e-cash, an ‘electronic wallet’ system intended for low value but high volume transactions (maximum limit was pegged at US$ 500). The government can make payments (e.g. cash bail) to citizens electronically via the card.
- Touch ‘n Go – Malaysia’s toll road tolling system and also public transport payment system.
- Digital certificate, commonly known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).
By law, MyKad must be carried at all times. Failure to do so may incur a fine or jail term of up to three years. Moreover, unlike in Kenya, security guards and other unauthorised persons are not allowed to retain the MyKads of other people. Only those authorised by the National Registration Department, like the police and immigration officers, can do so.
myKad Lessons for Kenya:
- Since mobile phone numbers are supposed to be registered, these, too, can be incorporated into a modern digital national ID that also serves as one’s NSSF, NHIF, driver’s license, and biometric card. It can also be used as a voter’s card during national polls.
- Adoption of such a card will help sanitise national citizen’s registration information already with Government. A massive but simple – technologically speaking – project of amalgamating all silos of Government and quasi-government (e.g. NSSF) held data should be undertaken for the card to be practicable.
- Police on patrol can be equipped with small portable card readers with which they can access a person’s information. Traffic police officers would use such gadgets to access the individual’s driving license. Using these gadgets, the police can also read a card, print court summons, or issue receipts for cash bail offered.Instead of having separate numbers for tax PIN, NSSF and driver’s license, the use of one (national ID) number should be able to bare all. Of course, there would be massive cost savings in the long term made from adopting one smartcard as opposed to multiple cards issued by various agencies. There can also be a similarly smart card for aliens (refugees).
- In the back office, the registration and law enforcement authorities would have a 3600 view of its citizens’ profiles using software and dashboards. This means that access to details of one’s card bares complete information about the person, including details of mobile phone numbers used before, “connections” to kinsmen, countries visited, etc.
- In later phases, the cards can also be linked to issued payment cards, debit and credit, and from these, government can using court orders obtain access to details of transactions, malls or ATMs visited, etc. The issuance of these cards must be done using stringent physical and logical security processes to ensure that illicit cards cannot be issued under any circumstances.
- Government offices, hospitals and even hotels should be equipped with inexpensive, PCI-DSS certified terminals (PoS) or ETR machines for purposes of any government transactions, monetary-based or otherwise, with this card.With proper policies and applications in place, the card can be extremely useful in netting tax evaders.