Bhutan prepares to vote on its National Identity Bill
Bhutan is preparing to vote for its National Digital Identity Bill, the legislative framework designed to regulate its sovereign digital ID ecosystem. The country’s lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, is expected to adopt the Bill on Monday.
On Friday, lawmakers voted to increase penalties for unlawful disclosure of credentials, non-compliance with directions and identity theft, state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) reports. The decision brought penalties for breaches by administrative and governing bodies to equal levels as those by individuals.
In preparation for the vote, Bhutan lawmakers received 55 recommendations for the bill. One of the major concerns is protecting privacy.
Karma Dorji, the minister for Industry, Commerce, and Employment reassured the National Assembly on Thursday that personal information will not be freely accessible as only the owner of the identity will have the authority to decide whether to share information.
“In the [National Digital Identity] system, if others want to see our data, only we can disclose it to them. If it is for medical purposes, only I can disclose my data to the doctor from my wallet.”
Bhutan digital ID project is designed to create easier access to government services such as issuing passports. The ID and other credentials will be available in a smartphone digital wallet with fingerprints and face biometrics required for identity authentication.
The Himalayan country launched the digital ID system this year with the crown prince being the first person to enroll in it.