Hong Kong’s Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) has revealed that the territory is investigating the use of its digital ID in mainland China.
In a Q&A, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Alfred Sit, said “the OGCIO is exploring with relevant authorities in the Mainland and Macao the collaboration opportunities between their identity authentication systems and iAM Smart.”
iAM Smart is a marketing abbreviation for “internet Access by Mobile in a Smart way”. It was launched in December 2020 as a “single digital identity” and authentication tool for government transactions. Adopters were promised a one-stop-shop for complete e-forms and documents, renewing car licences, paying taxes and bills, registering to vote, booking vaccines, checking vaccine status and more.
Secretary Sit said opportunities to use iAM Smart across borders include “mutual recognition of electronic signature certificates to promote cross-boundary e-commerce applications, facilitating Hong Kong citizens to use iAM Smart to log in different online services, conduct online transactions, and perform digital signing with legal backing.”
Sit promised further details in due course.
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The project has adopted a cute little green cartoon character, who may or may not be an anthropomorphised keychain, to explain it to you:
Since launch, iAM Smart has seen over 600,000 registrations. Sit argued that the participation rate of 8.7 per cent of those eligible is quite healthy, given the six-month post-debut adoption rates of similar tech programs by other countries – for example Belgium (2.6 per cent), Estonia (3.6 per cent) and Singapore (4.0 per cent).
Currently over 110 government services are included on the app, with 180 expected by the end of 2023.
While “cross-boundary e-commerce applications” might seem innocuous, the sharing of data with mainland China may raise eyebrows given Beijing’s progressively tightening grip on Hong Kong. ®