Coronavirus delays debut of Taiwan electronic ID card

Ministry of Interior says it can’t make cards in time for October release because of reliance on imported equipment.
Written by Andrew Silver, Contributor
Image: iStock

Taiwan's Ministry of Interior is indefinitely delaying the rollout of electronic ID cards due to COVID-19.

The card, featuring an embedded chip, was scheduled to begin replacing the island's existing ID cards in October. It would allow for digital signatures, anti-forgery capabilities, and other applications that could be built on top of it, the government previously said.

In a statement posted online on Monday, Taiwan's Ministry of Interior (MOI) said the delay is due to Taiwan awaiting to import the technology and first samples that are required to fabricate the cards, which must be performed on the island.

The government's initial plans were to import the first samples in April and set up fabrication equipment and production, but this timeline has been affected by COVID-19, it said.

The precise card release schedule will now depend on the state of the pandemic, it added.

While Taiwan has not enacted lockdowns, coronavirus has affected supply chains worldwide.

Students, academics, industry professionals, political figures, and NGOs last week signed a petition to void the release of the new ID card because of potential legal conflicts and information security risks.

But the MOI has said the card is safe and would be released in accordance with regulations.

Replacing existing cards with electronic ID cards [PDF] will cost the government an estimated 4.8 billion NTD, approximately $160 million.

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