Chinese authorities are expected to begin issuing newly-developed virtual identity electronic identification, or eID, to all citizens in the near future as part of efforts to enhance cyber security.
Each citizen will have an eID that corresponds to his or her genuine identity, a facility that will help people avoid harassment calls and various scams as well as prevent their personal information from leaking, according to Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News.
Yan Zeming, who is in charge of eID business at the Third Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, was quoted as saying that the eID is based on code that is theoretically undecipherable, and that the symbols are meaningless even if decoded.
eID can be used for all online activities and can be obtained at banks, Yan said, adding that people can use it to redeem public services, for online trading and third party payments, to interact on social networking sites and in e-commerce transactions, offering them peace of mind.
According to Hu Chuan-ping, head of the Third Research Institute, netizens will in future only need to give their names and eID numbers to internet service providers, with phone numbers, home addresses and other private information no longer necessary, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The trial scheme for eID has been in place since mid-2014, the paper cited Xinmin Evening News as saying.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is believed to have issued 16 million IC bankcards attached with eID nationwide.
The Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank and China Minsheng Bank are expected to follow suit soon.
The plans sounds good, but some observers fear that eID could become a new tool for authorities to tighten scrutiny on online activities.
The skeptics note that a similar plan devised by the US government several years ago came in for a lot of criticism.
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