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Japanese lose faith in digital ID cards following leaks

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India, USA, UK and Canada hit with healtcare database attacks: FireEye

The Japanese “My Number” card was supposed to be a unique identification document for all Japanese residents and was necessary to access some government services. However, with glitches and data leaks coming to light, prime minister Fumio Kishida has ordered an emergency review of the cards. 

The cards were initially planned to be used as an authentication-as-a-service offering that private businesses can use in addition to replacing health insurance cards. However, Japanese media has reported glitches and issues with the cards, with people with similar names receiving cards meant for other people and others receiving cards with details and records describing someone else. Human error was blamed for the latter mixup.  

This means the potential for identity theft or fraud has skyrocketed, dropping the public’s confidence in the card and making health insurance cards favourable. The cards are also equipped with NFC chips, raising questions on security against card cloning attacks. 

Regardless, while announcing the review of these cards, prime minister Kishida clearly stated that his intention to promote digitalisation in Japan remains unchanged. For now, though, the Japanese leader has announced that health insurance cards will persist until 2025 — a year longer than planned to help ease the public. His current priority seems to be winning back the public’s trust. 

Kishida’s wish to digitalise Japan isn’t a new one. Former prime minister Yoshihide Suga also expressed the same desire when taking the job in 2020. Japan’s ageing population has been left behind other countries “in response to the novel coronavirus,” according to PM Kishida. These measures, including heavy investments in tech manufacturing, are Kishida’s hopes of catching up to the rest of the world. 

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: [email protected].