'Smart IC' open to abuse, says CAP
18th April 2001 (The Star)

PENANG: The "smart IC'' which was recently launched may have far-reaching implications, inviting possible abuse and violation of individual privacy, according to the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).

As such, CAP said the new Personal Data Protection Bill to be tabled in Parliament soon should address smartcard issues and the possible violation of individual privacy.

CAP media officer Mary Assunta said that the implications of an "all-in-one smartcard'' in which an individual's personal and confidential information is incorporated into a single card puts the consumer in a vulnerable position.

She was responding to the newly-launched Government Multipurpose Card (GMPC) which uses microchip and biometrics technology and can contain details on identity, driver's licence information, passport details and medical data.

The GMPC also has facilities to conduct e-commerce and e-cash transactions.

"Information on the consumer's financial, medical and other confidential data is consolidated into a databank, and can be abused if in the wrong hands,'' she said.

"With the smartcard, one's personal information is available in different departments. One possible abuse is that the consumer may be punished for an unrelated offence committed in another department,'' she said.

She said the Bill should provide a proper definition for the term sensitive personal data, which is left to the minister to gazette in the proposed Bill.

"With the breaking down of traditional borders and the difficulty in policing transmission of data via Internet, the Bill must be specific in defining sensitive personal data in order to provide adequate protection to individual privacy,'' she said.