Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Singapore Elections - We Really Know Who You Are

A report on Channelnewsasia.com describes residents unease when they received election pamphlets by mail that displayed their NRIC (National Registration Identity Code) on the mailing label.

The article quotes the Elections Department:

"In response to Channel NewsAsia, the Elections Department says the NRIC numbers are given out to political parties as an assurance that the electors are genuine persons.

The Registers of Electors may be purchased by political parties and aspiring candidates to facilitate their communication with registered electors."

Which is nonsense of course. The Elections Department has to know that a voter is genuine, but having done so, there is no reason to further distribute sensitive information such as the NRIC to third parties. This lack of awareness of basic security is breath-taking, particularly given the very public and ongoing problem of identity theft.

Anyone who believes that national ID cards are a benign move permitting good government needs to realize that once a number is established, the genie is out of the bottle.

It is routine for security guards at buildings in Singapore to demand physical possession of your NRIC card before permitting entry to a building. Which makes it somewhat difficult to prove one's identity while inside the building, and leaves a nagging sense of peril that the guard is using your NRIC card for some other nefarious purpose, but hey, that's security.

No comments: