Study on Malaysia’s digital ID project to commence next month

According to Gobind, the study will consider Malaysia’s unique contexts, while identifying new policies that are needed


A STUDY on the national digital identity (ID) framework will begin next month.

This follows the Cabinet’s agreement on the introduction of biometric identities for Malaysia’s 32 million citizens.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture) said a comprehensive study will be conducted beginning September 2019 for a period of nine months to identify a holistic national digital ID framework.

The study will also propose recommendations to the government on appropriate implementation models that meet the needs of the people, businesses and the nation.

“In order to prep Malaysians in the face of a digital economy, the government has agreed to introduce the national digital ID which will enable consumers to operate safely and smoothly.

“To ensure the project runs smoothly and effectively, the study will involve the government, private (sector) and academic collaboration.

“It is hoped that coordinated research and efforts among key stakeholders from all sectors, industries and the public will provide a better mechanism for the implementation of the national digital ID in Malaysia,” he said in his keynote address during the launch of local e-commerce service PeDAS yesterday.

According to Gobind, the study will consider Malaysia’s unique contexts — including the existing MyKad and private infrastructure — while identifying new policies that are needed.

“The national digital ID is not a substitute to the existing MyKad, or compulsory for everyone. It is an advanced method of authenticating a user’s identity online.

“Whether it is a user setting up an account for the first time, logging in to obtain government services, doing business, or making a digital payment, the national digital ID enables digital service providers to make highly accurate trust decisions in real time,” he added.

Currently, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is in the final preparation stage for the national digital ID study tender.

According to the commission, a reliable multimodal authentication system equipped with a secure and trusted network is required in a digital identity management system to ensure users can prove their identity with reliable privacy and guaranteed security.

Subsequently, this would address issues related to identity theft and fraud, which is a major concern for both the public and private sectors.

This has made digital identity an important fundamental prerequisite to access critical services and participate in modern economic, social and political systems.

To put things into perspective, the digital ID is a unique representation of a person’s identity which is used to enable access to digital services and carry out transactions online in a more secure manner through an authentication process.

Considering Malaysia has one of the highest Internet and mobile phone penetration rates in South-East Asia — which has spurred rapid growth in the e-commerce sector and other Internet-related industries — the government is hoping to encourage further growth with a digital ID system that can be used not just in e-commerce, but also in new financial services such as e-payments.

“In addition, for the government services and businesses, the national digital ID will enable innovative and value-added digital services that facilitate end-to-end business processes with digital signing. This will promote process improvements and create efficiency as the platform is expected to adopt interoperability standards,” Gobind said.

A similar initiative called “MyEmail” was announced by the previous government to act as the digital channel of communication between the government and its users to enhance the access and delivery of government services and businesses.

Under that scheme, Malaysians would each be assigned a unique email account to receive government statements, bills and notices.

However, the project did not take off and the platform is no longer in service.