Malaysia believes it needs a new national digital ID. Source: Shutterstock

Malaysia believes it needs a new national digital ID. Source: Shutterstock

Malaysia sets out to study what a new national digital ID could look like

MALAYSIANS will have a new national digital ID soon.

Late last year, a 30-week study had been launched to explore what a new national digital ID could look like by the National Digital ID Study Task Force, co-chaired by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) Secretary-General and Chairman.

The study is expected to help analyze local contexts and use cases, implementation strategies, operating models, technologies, and policy incentives.

According to the MCMC, the recommendations of the task force will also take into consideration the country’s existing ID program, leveraging on its strengths, existing legal framework, and security.

“Today, as technology forms an integral part of our lives, the need for a safe, secure and protected National Digital ID platform has become both an essential and attractive proposition,” said MCMC Chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak.

“A national digital ID serves as a secure and trusted digital credential as well as a platform for authentication that can improve convenience, promote inclusivity, reduce the cost of access to services, and enhance service delivery to Malaysians where online transactions are concerned.”

Al-Ishsal said that the task force expects the final report of the study to be ready by 30 June, at which time, it hopes to be able to put forward its recommendations to the cabinet for further action.

Although the government body has only recently launched the study, the idea was initially discussed by Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo back in October 2018.

The national digital ID is an effort by the Government to enable Malaysians to embrace the rise of digital services. It will be an advanced method of authenticating a user’s identity online, where it is safe, secure and protected.

The MCMC has clarified that the new national digital ID will not be a substitute for the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC), nor will it be compulsory for everyone.

The task force conducting the study might decide to understand the efforts made by Australia as well as India to establish similar digital IDs.

Both countries have lessons to teach that might help Malaysia not only better understand how the national digital ID must be created but also what will help drive its adoption.

An important consideration that the MCMC should make relates to security. Experts hope that the suggested framework will offer ample safeguards to citizens when it comes to personal data privacy and security.

Although no implementation date was put forward by the MCMC, the national ID project might make a debut by the end of 2020 if the study can be completed on time.