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ID cards may carry fingerprint data

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

08:28, October 25, 2011

Residents in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province, look at templates of the second generation ID card during their visit to the provincial public security department on March 23. (Photo by Zhang Wenkui/Xinhua)

Top legislators to review proposed amendment that will make forgery harder

BEIJING - Lawmakers reviewed a proposed amendment on Monday that would allow fingerprint data on resident identity cards.

A draft amendment of the Resident Identity Cards Law requires fingerprint data to safeguard public security and make the cards harder to forge.

Fingerprints would make it easier to identify the cardholder and allow the card to be used across a range of areas, including banking, education, transport and medical, Yang Huanning, vice-minister of public security, said on Monday while explaining the draft to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

Each citizen above the age of 16 is required to carry an identity card and the Ministry of Public Security is responsible for the cards.

China started to issue the second-generation ID cards, which use digital anti-forgery technology, in 2004 and by the end of last year, 1.04 billion people had got new cards, according to figures from the Ministry of Public Security.

The first generation ID cards, which are still valid, will become obsolete on Jan 1, 2013, according to the draft amendment.

The draft requires people to offer their fingerprint information when they apply for, change or register their ID cards in the future.

Lawmakers expressed their support for the change while reviewing the draft amendment on Monday, saying that the proposed change was necessary in the digital and information age.

Li Xiao'ou, a bank worker in Beijing, said fingerprint data will make bank transactions safer.

"The fingerprint is a feature unique to each individual," he said. "The new card can better protect their private information and prevent their identity from being used by others when people want to do banking."

However, Li Chenguang, a manager at a Beijing branch of China Telecom, said cards with fingerprint data will cost more and may not be very helpful in telecom transactions.

But Dai Peng, a professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

"It'll also be effective for public security organs who can establish a fingerprint database," he said, adding that the fingerprint information will help the fight against crime.

Zhu Qi, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, also said that people must have the same type of ID card and whatever card is issued it must be uniform and the same for everyone.

Legislators must take this into account, he said.

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