China’s Ministry of Public Security issued the first batch of 50,000 smart chip cards in Gongqing City of Jiangxi Province in an attempt to promote safer and easier identity authentication for smartphone users. The technology is expected to have wide applications in areas such as e-commerce, social media, and administrative services.

Dubbed as SIMeID, the card can store users’ basic personal data such as names, phone numbers, ID card numbers, and other information. The chip is only 0.19 mm wide and can be attached to a SIM card easily.

SIMeID (Image credit: Jiangxi Daily)

During online transactions, the technology automatically provides the pre-stored information for identity authentication. This means users will not have to submit these data every time, lowering the risk of data leakage.

With more and more people preferring online transactions, personal information theft has been running rampant in China. Stealing private data online is not only technically simple, the cost is very low as well. A report by the Internet Society of China released last year show nearly 80% of web users had their personal information leaked.

Data leaks is so ubiquitous in China that some of the country’s top tech firms have started to take users’ privacy for granted. But a series of recent incidents brought data privacy issues to the surface. The state authorities cracked down on numerous members of a syndicate for allegedly buying and selling personal data over the internet. In an attempt to raise people’s awareness about data privacy, a Chinese artist bought personal data of 346,000 Wuhan residents and displayed them at a Wuhan art gallery.