EDITORIAL - A national ID

EDITORIAL - A national ID

(The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2018 - 12:00am

Brushing aside privacy concerns, President Duterte has put in place the national identification system. In signing the new law yesterday, the President called for public support for a measure that he said would cut red tape and reduce corruption and fraudulent transactions. The new law is also seen to strengthen the campaign against criminality and terrorism.

With the signing of the Philippine National Identification System Act, every Filipino must register for a physical national ID or PhilID and obtain a unique, randomly generated permanent ID number or Common Reference Number.

Information contained in the PhilID will include biometrics. A history of transactions made by the ID holder, such as travels by air or water as well as claims made with government agencies, will also be recorded. This has raised concern among certain sectors over privacy intrusions and data breaches, but lawmakers have reassured the public that there are enough safeguards designed into the law.

For others, the bigger concern is the efficient rollout of the IDs. With the PhilID, Filipinos need only a passport and driver’s license as separate government identification documents. There was a long wait, however, for the release of driver’s license cards. This was a nuisance for those who needed to use the driver’s license as the government document in obtaining certain goods or services such as in buying international plane tickets or getting a security clearance. Biometrics were also taken for voter’s ID cards several years ago, many of which were never delivered.

Authorities must also make sure that fears over data breaches and identity theft will prove unfounded. The new ID system, as the President stressed, is also a tool for fighting criminality and terrorism. But the system must be protected against breaches of its integrity. This is the first time that a national ID system is being implemented in this country. Those in charge of the rollout must see to it that any birth pains and glitches will be minimal.

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