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Identity Card Branch

Organisation Chart of the Identity Card Branch

The Identity Card Branch, established in 2016, is under the command of an Assistant Director. It comprises the Identity Card (General) Division, the Identity Card (System) Division and the Technology Services (Identity Card) Sub-division.

The Identity Card (General) Division is responsible for planning and preparing for the launch of the territory-wide identity card replacement exercise. The Identity Card (System) Division is responsible for planning and implementing the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System (SMARTICS-2) while the Technology Services (Identity Card) Sub-division provides technical advice and assistance in project implementation.

Next Generation Smart Identity Card Project

The current Smart Identity Card System (SMARTICS) was introduced in 2003. It is an online computer system that supports the registration and production of Hong Kong smart identity cards, including receipt of applications, record check, case assessment, personalisation and card issuance.

In 2010, the Department engaged a consultant to conduct the third Information Systems Strategy (ISS-3) Review with a view to formulating a long-term information systems strategy. Amongst other things, the ISS-3 consultant recommended the implementation of SMARTICS-2 to address the obsolescence of hardware and software of the existing SMARTICS and to cater for possible new business needs. Following the recommendation, the Department conducted a feasibility study on the implementation of SMARTICS-2. In addition to implementing a new computer system to replace the existing SMARTICS, the feasibility study also recommended that the opportunity be taken to make enhancement to smart identity cards through a one-off territory-wide identity card replacement exercise.

The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved a funding of $1,448 million in 2015:

Implementation of SMARTICS-2

Meetings were held with manufacturers to discuss system design.

SMARTICS-2 aims to replace the existing computer system and to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness in supporting the issue of Hong Kong smart identity cards. It will also support the provision of other immigration-related services by the Department and verification of personal data requested by other government bureaux/departments or public organisations for specific purposes in accordance with the law. Subject to the detailed system design, SMARTICS-2 will enhance the process of registration of persons, providing greater convenience to the public. With the introduction of the new system, improvement initiatives such as online form filling, automatic record check for application assessment and self-service collection kiosks with electronic cabinets will be introduced.

The tendering exercise for SMARTICS-2 is in progress. SMARTICS-2 is planned to be implemented in phases from 2018.

Factory inspection of smart card production facilities.

New Smart Identity Card

The new smart identity card will make use of the latest polycarbonate materials for better visual appearance, improved text printing quality and increased durability of card under normal usage. The card face security features will also be enhanced to maintain a low forgery rate with advancement in technology. Moreover, data storage and data transmission function of the chip of the new smart identity card will be safeguarded by multi-dimensional security features.

Site inspections are conducted at sites identified for setting up identity card replacement centres in preparation for the launch of a one-off territory-wide identity card replacement exercise for all Hong Kong identity card holders.

Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise

It is estimated that 8.8 million smart identity cards will be replaced in the coming one-off territory-wide identity card replacement exercise, whereby the existing Hong Kong smart identity cards of all Hong Kong identity card holders will be replaced in phases in an orderly manner. According to population distribution, it is planned to set up nine identity card replacement centres across the territory. Hong Kong identity card holders will be invited to attend the identity card replacement centres in batches for identity card replacement.

Personal Data Privacy Protection

The Department will ensure necessary safeguards are in place to comply with legal requirements on protection of personal data as well as system security at each and every stage of project development. Qualified independent consultants will be commissioned to conduct Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) during each critical stage of the implementation of SMARTICS-2. Each PIA report will be submitted to the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data for comments to ensure compliance with the relevant data protection principles and other requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486).

In addition to PIAs, the Department will also engage an independent auditor to conduct information technology security risk assessment and security audit at different stages of implementation to ensure the effectiveness of those security measures in protecting information in SMARTICS-2 and Hong Kong smart identity cards.