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Malaysian Government Aims to Launch Biometric ID System in 2022

(findBiometrics) – New details are emerging about the Malaysian government’s plans to implement a national biometric registry, thanks to the country’s latest five-year plan known as 12MP (12th Malaysian Plan).

News of the National Registration Department’s plans for a biometric registration system first emerged in early 2020, with authorities considering the use of DNA and facial biometric data to identify individuals. Now, according to a deep dive from Eurasia Review, it appears that the planned National Digital Identification system will contain face and fingerprint biometrics alongside biographic information.

Various government agencies will have access to information in the NDI, including authorities overseeing taxation, social welfare, education, health, immigration, and motor vehicle licensing. The aim appears to be to establish a large-scale biometric ID program at least somewhat along the lines of India’s Aadhaar system, which uses biometrics to easily verify the identities of individuals interacting with government officials and even private sector organizations.

That having been said, the 12MP document also points to the use of facial recognition via CCTV systems, allowing law enforcement and security officials to match individuals to NDI profiles. While this particular application of the NDI could ultimately prove controversial, the government emphasized improved public service and transparency as the key benefits of the national biometric registry in the 12MP document.

The Malaysian government is planning to conduct a review of the country’s Personal Data Protection Act with an eye to enhancing citizens’ control over their data and privacy before moving forward with a rollout of the biometric registry in 2022. Citing anonymous sources, Eurasian Review reports that a major conglomerate headed by the well-connected Malaysian businessman Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary is “keenly seeking” to win the contract to develop and operate the NDI system.

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