‘A national digital ID for all’

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo give a speech duirng the launch the e-commerce Entrapreneurship Summit at Palace of The Golden Horse, Kuala Lumpur. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: All Malaysians may soon have a national digital ID, says the Communications and Multimedia Minister.

Gobind Singh Deo (pic) said his ministry was looking to develop this “platform of trust” in cyberspace to eliminate elements of fraud and cheating.

“A plan for a national digital ID is being formulated. This digital ID is not meant to replace the MyKad nor would it be mandatory for everyone,” he said at the launch of the Malaysiakini e-commerce summit here yesterday.

Gobind added that a national digital ID, which is likely to be out by the middle of next year, was meant to provide a “verifiable platform of trust”.

He said that when you apply to join a certain organisation, you would be asked for a photocopy or image of your MyKad.

“That is not an example of trust nor is it ‘verifiable’.

“In comparison, this is what a national digital ID can offer: You could apply to be a member of that organisation by registering your application using the national digital ID. This would be a trusted and verifiable platform,” said Gobind.

With e-commerce poised to become the largest retail channel in the world by 2021, the minister said there was a need for such an ID.

“If we look at the complaints on e-commerce and mobile phone scams, there is ample possibility of fraud and cheating. We can verify the national digital ID to ensure that it reduces the scope for such crimes,” he said.

The national digital ID project will be a co-operation between his ministry, the Malaysian Communi­cations and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

Gobind explained that MDEC “has vast experience in the area”.

“We will also get other stakeholders in,” he said.

Gobind added that to ensure such a national digital ID was legal by law, his ministry would study various pieces of existing legislation, including the Perso­nal Data Protection Act 2010.

He said Malaysians would enjoy numerous benefits by having a national digital ID.

“A national digital ID will be an integral and crucial platform for the digital government initiative.

“The government or its agencies can deliver targeted subsidies efficiently via an e-Wallet account that has been registered using the national digital ID,” said Gobind.

In an immediate response, MDEC chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said that the agency was supportive of the initiative.

She tweeted: “This will be a key enabler to unlock tech entrepreneurship and drive digital adoption. MCMC and the ministry as well as MDEC will drive this, with input and participation from industry players.”

This is the second time Malaysia is looking into creating such a platform. In 2011, the previous administration under former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the 1Malaysia email project that was to form the basis of a national digital ID, part of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

The 1Malaysia email project was a government initiative to provide a unique and official email account and ID for Malay­sians and would allow them to receive statements, bills and notices from the government.

The RM50mil contract was awarded to Tricubes Bhd but faltered after it was revealed that the company was in the danger of being delisted because of financial irregularities.

Tricubes was ultimately delisted in 2012.

The project was also supposed to include a web portal as a one-stop centre for accessing government services and making payments.

Developed in collaboration with US technology giant Microsoft Corp, it came under fire when it became unclear whether the money would come from public funds or the private sector – and reached breaking point when it was revealed that government agencies would have to pay 50sen for every email sent to a Malaysian.

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