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Smart National ID Cards Introduced in Bangladesh

October 2, 2016 marks the inauguration of Smart National ID cards (NID) by the Bangladeshi government as a part of the Digital Bangladesh Initiative, which aims to distribute ID cards to 100 million Bangladesh citizens.

The current laminated cards that are used by the Election Commission (EC) will be replaced by the new NID cards. The new ID cards have quite a few new functions including being an acceptable form of driver’s license, passport, trade license, tax payments, banking and more. Once the cards are issued, they will be valid for a 10 year time period.

According to Election Commission officials, the NID cards will hold 32 types of unique information about the card holder. Some of these details include finger print impressions from all 10 fingers and even pictures of the individual’s iris.

Security: Pros & Cons

The obvious intention of the NID card implementation is to prevent / reduce forgery. The current cards are fairly easy to duplicate and falsify. However, the new cards that are read by a machine have 25 security features that are designed to prevent falsification. “Forging the smart NID cards would be almost impossible, ” said EC Secretary Sirazul Islam.

Having said that, there is a major concern for the security of the people’s information. Because such signification details are being collected from each person, it would be detrimental if any of the information were to be leaked of compromised.

The EC assures citizens that their information will be safe and fully protected from unauthorized access, however there has been no mention of how the information will be stored and if it will be encrypted or not.

Sustainability and Accuracy

Another potential concern is the mass collection of finger prints. Many of the local citizens have or currently work in manual labor. This can pose a pretty big problem in terms of scaring overtime from working with your hands in rough environments. If an individual gives their fingerprints and then does manual labor for a decade, will the prints still be recognizable after all that time and a few scars?


Yet another concern with mass data collection is the potential of wrongful use of the information and surveillance. Earlier in the year there were moves to pass new provisions on national security in regards to the use of the collected information. However, changing the purpose of the collected data too drastically violates the purpose of the initial collection, but it doesn’t seem to be an option to withdraw an individual’s information or consent.

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