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Taiwan hands out 22 million ID cards

ZDNet UK reports the Taiwan government has completed the distribution of 22 million Java-based ID cards to its citizens, in one of Asia’s largest deployments of such cards. The country’s Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) adopted US-based Sun Microsystems’ Java card technology primarily to prevent identity theft, according to a statement from the computing firm.

Each card contains a microprocessor with 32 kilobytes of memory that allows data such as allergy information, emergency contact numbers, medication, and personal insurance to be stored. Daniel Yu, Sun Microsystems Greater China vice president of global sales operations said:

Java card technology allows card issuers to modify the services and applications on the card as the user’s needs change, without incurring additional costs to replace the card.

The distribution of the 22 million health cards started in July last year to replace its original paper-based system was expected to finish by May this year. The cards cost around $2 (£1.21) each.

In an even larger scheme in Thailand, the government plans to issue a Java-based national ID card to all 61 million citizens, according to a report in the Bangkok Post. The card will contain biometric identification, as well as insurance, tax and welfare benefit information. The scheme is expected to be launched later this year.

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