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China examining eID for its 600 million Internet users


China is examining the introduction of electronic identification in a bid to protect private information and curb Internet fraud.

Electronic identification, or eID, is typically a government-issued document for online and offline identification. The typical electronic identity card has the format of a regular bank card, with printed identity information on the surface, such as personal details and a photograph, as well as an embedded microchip.

eID has been described as more reliable than paper-based ID because it provides more data security with built-in privacy features. The use of digital signatures makes it harder or even impossible to make a forged ID as the duplicate ones would invalidate existing digital signatures.

“The eID technology, which could effectively check the validity of people’s online IDs, will be conducive to protecting their privacy and the safety of their property when they are using social media or e-commerce platforms,” said a senior official in China’s Ministry of Public Security, according to a recent report that appeared in China Today.

“Considering there are more than 600 million Chinese Internet users, it’s more than necessary to invest in this infrastructure to protect privacy and eliminate online hacking or fraud,” said Dai Peng, director of the Criminal Investigation College at the People’s Public Security University of China, in the same report.

According to the China Today report, all potential eID credential applications will be submitted to China’s National Population Database for careful checks before being issued to members of the public.

While Greece, New Zealand, Rwanda and the European Union have all been actively studying eID implementation, China’s potential deployment of eID would conceivably be the world’s largest. Brazil, France, Indonesia, Poland, Russia, Malaysia and the Philippines have been actively issuing electronic identity cards to replace conventional identity cards.

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