- Powered by Yip Tse & Tang, Solicitors & Notaries 葉謝鄧律師行

Government immigration department streamlines smart ID card applications

The Immigration Department of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region has chosen to use FileNet's ECM solution to help streamline its application process for a recently launched Smart ID Card.

Under a new immigration identification system, Hong Kong's seven million residents are expected to replace their traditional ID cards with new multi-application smart identity cards by 2007. With the Smart ID Cards, holders will be able to enjoy a variety of government electronic services in a safe and secure manner.

Apart from immigration applications, a smart identity card can also support other value-added non-immigration applications, including e-Cert - digital signature certification - and library cards.

The Smart Card project comprises three major components:

  • conversion of all historical ID applications and related records
    into digital images to provide fast, online retrieval. These are currently
    kept on microfilm and index cards.

  • development of a new, multi-application smart card and supporting
    high-performance computer system to deliver security and resilience

  • territory-wide ID card replacement by 2007

    It is reported that FileNet's Image Services is a core component of this project. In addition to providing the Immigration Department with a high-performance, high-capacity system for managing the capture, storage and retrieval of all historical ID applications and related records, it is also fully compliant with the government's exacting auditing procedures.

    According to FileNet, integrating seamlessly with other enterprise applications and systems at the Hong Kong Immigration Department, FileNet's ECM solution enhances overall efficiency since it enables Immigration Department staff to retrieve historical ID records instantly without having to wait for microfilm or index cards to be found and dispatched from archives. This will help significantly increase the speed at which the new cards are processed. With the ECM solution in place, the Department now has a secure and permanent store of critical immigration information to safeguard from disaster and misuse.

    'The Smart Card project is an ideal showcase for FileNet's powerful ECM capabilities - in this case, managing the vast amount of historical data that must now be made instantly accessible to the Immigration Department' said Hugh Sutherland, vice president of Asia Pacific Operations, FileNet Corporation. 'It is yet another example of how FileNet can help organizations manage content by automating, simplifying and streamlining their business processes.'

    For further information about FileNet, please visit their website at

  • Curbing forgery of Hong Kong smart identity cards

    It was reported that in a joint operation in early 2004, the police forces in Macao and Zhuhai uncovered a cross-boundary criminal syndicate specialized in forging documents, and among the articles seized were some high-quality forged Hong Kong smart identity cards.

    The Hong Kong Government has been very concerned about and have attached great importance to cross-boundary criminal activities of forgery syndicates. Well-established communication mechanism is in place for the law enforcement agencies to maintain close liaison and exchange information with the relevant Mainland, Macao and overseas authorities as well as representatives of consulates in Hong Kong on issues of mutual concern, including cross-boundary criminal activities of forgery syndicates. As for the case concerned, original intelligence indicated that the target of operation would not involve any forged Hong Kong identity documents and, therefore, the law enforcement agencies were not invited to participate in the operation. However, upon learning about the case, the Immigration Department (ImmD) had liaised with the relevant Mainland and Macao enforcement agencies and obtained relevant information for appropriate follow-up actions.

    As soon as forged Hong Kong smart identity cards were uncovered early 2004, ImmD has, in collaboration with the relevant Mainland enforcement agencies, been investigating the cases actively. The Government does not preclude that criminal syndicates are involved but further details cannot be disclosed while investigations are underway. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the alleged criminal syndicate was involved in cases of forged smart identity cards found in Hong Kong in the past.

    Forged Hong Kong smart identity cards seized by the law enforcement agencies in early 2004 were of poor quality and defects could be spotted easily. As for the forged identity cards seized later, they are of better quality. Nevertheless, the forgers are unable to grasp the anti-forgery features which are unique to the smart identity cards, such as :

  • optical variable ink,
  • multiple laser image,
  • kineprint that enables images to change colours when viewed at different angles, and
  • high-quality laser engraved photograph on polycarbonate card body.
  • According to the Government, it is not difficult for the general public to differentiate between a genuine card and a fake one under careful scrutiny. To prevent the public and employers from being deceived, ImmD has strengthened publicity in this respect. Apart from producing posters and pamphlets for public reference, it has held talks for banks, property management companies, construction companies and law enforcement agencies. A hotline (2824 1551) has also been set up to facilitate enquires by the public and employers.

    Characteristics and Usage of a Smart Card

    A smart card has the following characteristics:

    1. a memory card or a microprocessor card;

    2. disposable or reusable;

    3. contact or contactless;

    4. single purpose or multi-purpose.


    1. access control and identification e.g. propose smart ID card by the HKSAR Government;

    2. automatic fare collection for fares e.g. Octopus;

    3. industrial automation applications in asset tracking, warehouse and inventory control, facilities and equipment management and manufacturing automation;

    4. financial transactions in banking;

    5. electronic purse applications in retail stores e.g. Mondex, VisaCash;

    6. loyalty program such as frequent flier and frequent buyer bonus plan e.g. Compass Visa;

    7. parking;

    8. petroleum retail;

    9. health care;

    10. telecommunications application such as payphones and mobile phones network access.

    Factors accounting for increasing use of smart card technology

    Quite a number of factors contribute to the increasing use of the smart card technology in e-commerce:

    1. The declining cost of smart cards. The cost can be as little as HKD10.

    2. People have become more concerned about fraudulent transactions surrounding the use of magnetic strip card systems. Smart cards has given a higher level of data security. It is coupled with stronger protection against forgery. Identity theft is critical for secure transactions. The smart card and the system can communicate for authentication. The identity of the cardholder can also be verified by use of a personal identification number (PIN). Using strong cryptography, data contained in the smart card is secure against espionage and tampering during the data transmission process over a network. with the use of a microprocessor. One smart card can manage several applications.

    3. Magnetic strip card has low memory capacity. Memory of smart card is 100 times more than that. A great deal of transactional information or data can be gathered for analysis. Data can include demographic pattern and consumption behaviour. Such information can assist sales and marketing activities, especially the concept of target marketing or one-to-one marketing.

    4. With the coming of the Internet and the ubiquitous presence of telecommunications facilities, distance or cross-border selling has become more widespread than anytime in the past history. Security in terms of identity authentication has become a major issue of concern.

    5. With the strong capabilities of smart card, the use of it in commerce results in higher speed and more convenience in transactions.

    6. Smart cards are compatible with portables devices such as PCS mobile phones. It is an ideal instrument for the convergence of telecommunications and personal computers.

    Use of Smart Card Technology

    A smart card is a device with size and appearance like a credit card. It is made in plastic and is fixed with an embedded Integrated Circuit (IC) chip. The IC chip enables the storage and processing of information and transactions. Smart cards are chips capable of having the following functions:

  • Memory cards, which merely store data and have no data processing capabilities.

  • Hardwired Logic, Intelligent Memory cards, which contain simple Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), usually used to control the access to the memory of the card.

  • Microprocessor cards, which contain a microprocessor to execute a program stored inside the same silicon chip and can make decisions based on external input. Microprocessor cards are true smart cards which are used in banking, finance and other applications where high security is essential. Very often the data processing power is used to encrypt/decrypt data, which makes this type of card most appropriate for application requiring security features.