News in Brief

UN Holds Event to Help Strengthen CRVS

As a side event to the 78th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the UN hosted the ‘Building a More Resilient Future with Inclusive Civil Registration and Vital Statistics – Strengthening Linkages with the Health Sector’ event on 23 May 2022.

The meeting noted that to address the problem of low civil registration rates and poor quality reporting of causes of death, over the last several decades many countries have engaged the health sector to play a more proactive role in civil registration.

Many countries now require the health sector to declare or notify vital events directly to the registrar or require the health sector to facilitate the submission of the declaration from the family to the civil registrar.

This shifting of some or all of the reporting responsibility away from the individual and onto the health sector recognises that civil registration is a fundamental human right and the data produced is a public good and, therefore, governments have a compulsory duty to actively ensure the registration of all vital events in their territory.

One case study highlighted at the meeting was how Pakistan is following this international paradigm shift and significantly shifting responsibilities for registration away from families.

Video and presentations from the event can be found at event/side-event-building-more-resilient- future-inclusive-civil-registration-and- vital-statistics.

Couriers Lose Hundreds of New UK Passports

Couriers lost hundreds of passports over the pandemic despite millions fewer being issued as lockdown closed down international travel, new figures have revealed.

The waiting time for an adult passport renewal has risen to ten weeks, and with warnings that this target is regularly being missed, families face missing out on summer breaks abroad with documents not returned in time.

In 2018 and 2019, before the pandemic closed down international travel, approximately 6.7 million passports were issued each year. Of those, 422 and 437 passports and supporting documents (respectively) were lost during delivery.

In 2020, with borders closed and people forced to stay at home, the number issued shrank to 3.9 million - but 519 were lost. In the first six months of 2021, the most recent months for which data is available, 4.8 million passports were dispatched. Of these, 1,196 passports or supporting documents were reported lost.

A Passport Office spokesman said: ‘between January 1 and July 31 2021, HM Passport Office sent over 3.3 million items to its customers.

‘While regrettable, less than 0.04% of those were reported as having been lost during delivery, and many of those items have been subsequently recovered.

‘The safety of our customers’ personal data is of paramount importance and every attempt is made to recover lost or mis- delivered documents.

‘Once reported, passports are cancelled on the system immediately in order to mitigate against the risk of misuse and we continue to work with our delivery partner to develop measures to reduce the number of losses overall.’ Between January and July 2021, 60% of the items reported as lost were subsequently recovered.

The reasons for loss include the customer making an error on an application form or no longer living at the address provided - or a human error by HM Passport Office or their delivery partner.

France Announces User-Controlled Mobile Digital Identity App

France has announced a new system for proving digital identity via a smartphone app called ‘Service de garantie de l’identité numérique’ (SGIN) (‘Digital Identity Guarantee Service’).

The system for automating the processing of personal information is jointly authorised by the Minister of the Interior (General Secretariat) and the National Agency for Secure Documents (ANTS).

The app element serves as a smartphone extension of the electronic Carte Nationale d’Identité (CNIe). The app will authenticate a person’s identity for accessing both public and private-sector services and uses the smartphone’s NFC reader to scan users’ biometric identity cards.

The official announcement 1 describes the details of the new app. SGIN will be based on the biographic data held in the new French ID cards launched in August 2021. It will only work with the new credit card sized CNIe with embedded chip, and not with the previous CNI version.

It will not access the card holder’s biometrics, in France’s case, images of two fingerprints. It is also not compulsory and allows cardholders to be selective as to what data fields they share for any transaction:

‘The application allows the user, in particular, to generate electronic certificates comprising only the identity attributes which he considers necessary to transmit to third parties of their choice,’ it said.

The previous attempt at an identity verification system with mobile capabilities, Alicem, fell foul of disputes over its use of facial recognition and was cut short by the data regulator, CNIL.

The decree also stipulates how long data can be kept. It has been developed in light of EU regulations on digital identity and the free movement of data.

The contract for the work is based on a previous contract awarded to IDEMIA, Atos and Sopra Steria last year.

IDEMIA subsequently won a contract to make French ID cards readable with smartphones through NFC.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Moves to Issue ID Cards to All

Prime Minister Hun Sen has started an initiative to issue identity cards to all Cambodians residing overseas so that they can vote or conduct business in Cambodia.

Nhoeun Raden, spokesman for the royalist Funcinpec party, said that it is very important that Cambodians overseas are eligible to vote.

‘This is very important because Cambodians living abroad can take part in the elections. We support the issuance of IDs for them,’ he said.

Yang Saing Koma, founder of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP), said that more than one million Cambodians, including migrant workers and labourers, are working and living in Asia.

He said that they are the human resources that partake in developing the country.

‘I agree with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s policy in issuing Cambodian ID cards for Cambodians living abroad to vote and to participate in politics. It is a good idea,’ Saing Koma said.

Speaking to about 2,500 Cambodians in Zurich, Switzerland, Mr Hun Sen said the Ministry of Interior will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue Khmer Identity Cards to all Cambodians living in European countries.

He added that the government will issue Cambodian ID cards for those who live abroad so that they can cast ballots, engage in politics, purchase property and conduct business in Cambodia.

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