China plans to make use of electronic identification in a bid to protect private information and curb Internet fraud, according to the Third Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security.
The country is conducting research into a system of online ID with support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Public Security.
The eID, an electronic tool to recognise users' IDs on the Internet, will be submitted to the National Population Database for careful checks before being issued to members of the public.
Technology will be used to ensure that data kept in the eID cannot be read, copied or tampered with, said the institute.
"The eID technology, which could effectively check the validity of people's online IDs, will be conducive to protecting their privacy and the safety of their property when they are using social media or e-commerce platforms," said a senior official from the institute who declined to reveal his name.
In recent years, the number of cases involving private information disclosure, online hacker attacks, commercial fraud and fake information has risen sharply, posing serious threats to e-commerce trading and individual security.
"Due to the lack of a system to recognise people's online IDs, most netizens are using their names and ID numbers or personal information to identify themselves, which makes them vulnerable," said Yan Zeming, director of the eID research and development department at the institute.
The eID could be embedded in various kinds of chips and smart cards, including social security cards, residence permit cards, bank cards or mobile SIM cards, Yan said. It will be recognised by card readers or smartphones.
"People who hold the eID can swipe a card for access to a ministry's database and verify their online ID rather than offering their private information to different websites," Yan said.
"Considering there are more than 600 million Chinese Internet users, it's more than necessary to invest in this infrastructure to protect privacy and eliminate online hacking or fraud," said Dai Peng, director of the Criminal Investigation College at the People's Public Security University of China.