New-tech ID cards touted for data safety and convenience

Top News | Charlotte Luo 28 Dec 2018

The replacement of ID cards with new smart cards began yesterday at nine operation centers.

The chief executive, main officials, lawmakers, staff of the Immigration Department and police are among the first batch of people getting the new card.

More than 100 new automated immigration channels have been installed at the West Kowloon Station of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the SAR port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Each e-channel costs about HK$180,000.

Holders of the smart card can go through the e-channels in eight seconds, compared to the current 12 seconds.

The new cards contain radio frequency identification technology and higher resolution photographs.

There are optical card readers on the e-channel equipment so that people just need to put the picture side of the card on the reader, instead of inserting the ID in the machine.

Raymond Lok Wai-man, assistant director of information system at the Immigration Department, said this will reduce damage to the chip and cards would be more durable.

Lok said the new technology is safe and personal information cannot be read in the open.

He said the new equipment can process fingerprint and do face recognition. For holders' convenience, however, face recognition is not used for now.

At other ports such as the Lo Wu Control Point and Macau Ferry Terminal, the system has been upgraded for the new IDs.

As of last Friday, 51 new e-channels were available at the Hong Kong Port of the bridge and 53 at the West Kowloon Station terminus.

For civilians, the first round of replacement is for those born in 1985 and 1986, whose application will be processed between January 21 and March 30 next year. The second round is for those born in 1968 and 1969, starting in April. The last batch will be people born in 1954 or earlier.

Replacement is required for all residents. It will take about four years to replace some 8.8 million IDs in circulation.

Chan Tin-chee, the department's assistant director of personal documentation, said people may make appointments in advance or walk in to apply directly.

Chan said the nine Smart Identity Card Replacement Centres can process about 7,700 applications each day.

He encouraged people to make appointments in advance and fill in the application forms with the mobile app of the Immigration Department.

Chan said it would take about 10 working days to obtain the new ID card, which can be picked up at different centers.

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