Duterte to sign national ID system bill into law

Jodesz Gavilan
Duterte to sign national ID system bill into law
The national ID system in the Philippines has been the center of debate concerning privacy and data security

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign into law on Monday, August 6, the bill that will create the national identification system.

Proponents of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) said it can greatly improve the delivery of government services as it addresses the lack of government-issued identification cards of many Filipinos. 

All Filipino citizens and registered aliens would be required to register through the government’s central identification platform. (READ: What you need to know about the proposed national ID system)

The system will collect a person’s demographic data such as full name, sex, date of birth, blood type, address, and citizenship. Biometric information will also be recorded, including a front-facing photograph, full set of fingerprints, and iris scan.

Collected information will be handled and secured by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

A registered individual will be given a randomly generated, unique, and permanent ID number or the PhilSys Number (PSN). A physical ID card or PhilID will also be issued. 

The PhilID or PSN can be used when dealing with national government agencies, local government units, government owned and controlled corporations, government financial institutions, and the private sector.

The Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bill in May 2018.

Controversial bill

The establishment of a national ID system has been the center of debate concerning privacy and data security.

While the system may be beneficial, data privacy experts are worried about certain provisions in the bill which may blur the line between what’s appropriate and what may constitute a violation of privacy. (READ: ‘Record history’ casts cloud of doubt on proposed national ID system)

For example, the inclusion of a record history, which will track each transaction made, may pave the way for mass surveillance. If the national ID system aims to streamline identity verification, keeping a record history would be completely unnecessary, experts said.

But proponents of the system and the National Privacy Commission insisted that measures are in place to secure the privacy of Filipinos.

The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world without a national ID system yet. Attempts in past administrations were met with budget issues, legal troubles, and poor public support, among others. (READ: Past attempts at a national ID system: A battleground of privacy, executive power) – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.