Singapore Launches Digital ID to Access Public Services

Singapore launched the Digital IC (Identity card) Singpass mobile app. The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said that government agencies would accept the digital ICs from the 1ˢᵗ of November. They will get the digital ICs when individuals use or will apply for public services in person.

People will be able to use the digital IC for patient registration, book appointments at public clinics, register at government buildings for entry, borrow books from libraries, collect passports, book Housing Board flats and pick up the keys.

However, there will be some exceptions for now. In some cases, like marriage registration, checking into hotels and investigations, the law requires physical identity documents under the Criminal Procedure Code or the National Registration Act. Other instances in which the authorities would still push for physical identity documents include school examinations where phones are not allowed and during national service enlistment where candidates should surrender physical identification cards.

SNDGO and GovTech said the Government is working on amending laws to formalise the use of digital uses for these purposes as well. SNDGO and GovTech are working with other government agencies to raise public awareness of the digital IC. Digital versions of more cards linked to a person’s identity, such as driving licences and professional certifications, will be added later to the Singpass App. 

Meanwhile, Android users of the app who have already installed it has come up with severe criticisms. Users complained that the app does not work with notifications turned off. It continues working in the background overloading the phone’s CPU and draining the battery extremely fast. One user has even said that it drained 23% of the battery in an hour and doubted whether the app pulled off overzealous polling of data. The app does not have a sign-out feature which brings much slack. The severe lack of privacy and security features contrary to the claim made by SNDGO is also attracting harsh criticism