Slow distribution of digital IDs in the Philippines due to low-quality webcams and the digital divide

The Philippines has come upon several challenges in the rollout of its PhilSys ID system.

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The distribution of the PhilSys ID has hit a brick wall. The plan was to provide digital IDs to all 80 million persons in the population this year; however, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the quality of biometric data collected by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is too poor to achieve that milestone. On the other hand, the PSA, responsible for distributing physical IDs, has issued 33.4 million cards. Only 36.8 million digital IDs have been distributed to date.

DICT, the entity responsible for the distribution of digital IDS, has been instructed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to fast-track the rollout of the digital IDs and simultaneously assist the PSA with the biometric data evaluation and collection processes. It must also present ways in which Filipinos without digital devices or access to the internet can make use of digital IDs. The PhiSys ID project seeks to fulfil the 2015 Philippine Identification System Act mandate.

Why does it matter?

The challenges faced by the Philippines serve as a vital lesson for governments collecting data for their digital ID systems. It illustrates that data collection is vital to creating a solid backbone for any digital ID system.