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and the information it contains vary from country to country.

For most countries, the data contained in the ID cards are similar to information contained in credit cards or any employee ID. The amount of data contained in the cards depends on the purpose/s for which it is supposed to be used. Some use ID cards as part of employment requirements such as in Kenya and in Spain. In Belgium, the ID is used by citizens as proof of age when purchasing liquor and going to “for adults-only” places (Wang, undated ).

In the Philippines, the idea of a national identification system was first brought up in the martial law years (OSETC Digest, 2005). The idea of Presidential Decree 278 was also to harmonize all government-issued identification systems into one national reference card. The decree covered Filipino citizens as well as foreign nationals. Since then, Philippine presidents except Cory Aquino have issued statutes with similar aims (see Table 3). President Ramos’ ID

Table 3. Presidential Statutes on National Identification System and Their Rationale

Presidential Statute

President

Rationale

Presidential Decree No. 278 - Instituting a National Reference Card System and Creating Therefor The National Registration Coordinating Committee

Marcos

Administrative Order No. 308 - Adoption Of A National Computerized Identification System

Ramos

To ensure national security and convenience in the transaction of official

private offices and

transactions with basic services and social security providers and other government instrumentalities

business

with

government

and

agencies To

facilitate

Executive Order No. 420 Requiring All Government Agencies And Government- Owned and Controlled Cor- porations To Streamline And Harmonize Their Iden- tification (ID) Systems, And Authorizing For Such Pur- pose The Director-General, National Economic and De- velopment Authority To Implement The Same, And For Other Purposes

Macapagal- To reduce government

Arroyo

red tape and enhance

the integrity

and

reliability

of

g ove rnment-is sue d identification cards in

private transactions

system was stymied by a Supreme Court ruling nullifying the administrative order because it encroached on Congress’ right to legislate.

E-Governance

As information technology gained headway, governments saw the possibilities of e- governance in harnessing efficiency. IDs were linked with national registration systems and were no longer used only for identification, but also for the enhancement of public service delivery (Privacy International, 1996:3). Hence, countries that have long ago used ID cards are updating their systems into what has come to be called “smart cards” in line with newly-developed technologies. Smart cards are called as such because they contain a person’s biometrics stored in computer chips and combine several public and private transactions.

Among countries in Asia, the most ambitious is Malaysia. While its rationale for updating its card is to provide efficient public service delivery and protect against terrorism, the Malaysian government clearly takes pride in the fact that its ID card is touted as the most technologically advanced in the world. Dubbed as the “Mykad,” it combines “eight or nine commercial transactions on a single card and including driver’s license, health insurance, toll payment and ATM cash withdrawal” (CardTechnology,2005). At the same time, similar plans are in the pipeline in China, India, Thailand and the Persian Gulf States (ibid.).

Fighting Terrorism

In the aftermath of September 11, states scrambled to revise and update their internal security policies so as to cope with the changing security framework. Because the perpetrators were non-state actors and non-combatants, states realized that new measures must be employed to counter the dangers posed by terrorism. ‘Homeland defense’ as opposed to ‘national defense’ is now the name of the game.

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