[Dave Birch] I can’t help but keep returning to the MyKad smart identity in Malaysia because it’s such a fascinating, and valuable, case study of the transition to a smart identity card. And because it happened a few years ago, it provides useful data (gathered over time) on the evolution of such a scheme. Now, the Sabah Law Association (SLA) has said that the authorities should look into provisions of the Sabah Ordinance on Registration of Births and Deaths 1948 to assist them eradicate the problem of fake MyKads in the State. The association’s president said that the provisions provide for a procedure for late registration of birth certificates and would address the problem of fake MyKad being issued to foreigners who makes application for such document supported only by statutory declarations. In other words, people can claim that they are only now registering their birth, without supporting documentation, and get an identity card. He pointed out a report carried by the newspapers regarding a Member of Parliament from Sabah whose name had been used to obtain a fake MyKad, saying the case was only “the tip of the iceberg”.

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The story illustrates a general weakness, discussed recently in the context of the American REAL ID case, which is that because identity cards are tangible and totemic (and straightforward to make very, very secure) it is too easy to mistake a secure card for a secure scheme. if the “feeder” documents have a weakness, then a secure ID card makes the situation worse, not better. This is because once a criminal, fraudster or other undesirable has obtained the relevant piece of “REAL ID” then they are subsequently able to traverse bureaucracy unhindered. In the absence of sort-of-REAL ID, security is actually tighter. As a law enforcement person explained to me on a project we were working on connected with the police, some very bad people get caught because the registration number on their forged tax disc doesn’t match the registration number on their forged vehicle papers: if they can just a present a smart card and drive on, that kind of thing would never get picked up.

On, and there’s a copy of “A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity” by John Henry Clippinger on my desk waiting to be sent to the first person to reply to this post explaining why the title of the thread is so apt. In the now traditional fashion, the offer is open to all except for employees and associates of Consult Hyperion and members of my immediate family. There are no cash alternatives. Oh, and no-one can win more than one of these blog competitions per year.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


  1. My guess is that you are referring to a wolf in sheep’s clothing: falsified feeder documents allow the perpetrator to seem like a sheep when they are in reality a wolf. Serigala is the indonesian for wolf.

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