Immigration Department issues statement to quash rumours that information on the new Smart ID can be read remotely via RFID technology


18th July 2019 (Hong Kong) We reported earlier many fear that the new smart Identity cards may be permanent trackers for the government to snoop on Hong Kongers and those anti-establishment activists and dissidents.

The Immigration Department has reiterated via a statement at 7.30pm today that the new smart identity card has adopted multiple security measures to ensure full protection of the privacy of personal data stored in the ID card. The procedure for verifying identity is also absolutely safe and accurate.

Only the approved optical reader can read the personal data of the new smart ID chip. In the absence of an authorisation certificate and a specific computing program, it is impossible to use any other device to read the data on the chip of the new smart ID card.

In addition, information can only be extracted if the smart ID card holder place it on an authorised optical reader via wireless transmission technology. Also, the chip of the new smart ID card has no separate battery attached and hence, it cannot transmit any signals on its own.The distance between the chip and the reader must be less than two centimeters before any information can be transferred. Therefore, it is impossible to read the information on the chip of the new smart ID card if the cardholder does not take it out.

The Immigration Department has commissioned independent consultants to conduct a privacy assessment and IT security assessment to ensure that the system design and work processes are in compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, other relevant standards and guidelines. The independent consultant’s assessment found that the safeguards adopted by the new smart ID card effectively prevented the personal data in the smart ID card from being illegally read through the contactless interface.

The Immigration Department noticed that there were individual groups in the community who distributed freely to the public a card holder that claims to block radio frequency identification (RFID) to prevent unauthorized reading of personal data in the new smart identity card. The Immigration Department reiterates that the new smart identity card cannot be illegally read. The relevant information is misleading to the public.