Yangyel Lhaden

The National Assembly directed the Good Governance Committee to review how to hold the governing and administrative bodies of national digital identity host agencies to account if there is a lapse. 

Khamaed-Lunana MP Yeshey Dem said that it is unfair to impose severe penalties on users while governing and administrative bodies only are liable to minor fines and lenient penalties, as outlined in the National Digital Identity Bill. “If service providers are not subjected to heavy penalties, they could make mistakes,” Yeshey Dem said.

She said that whenever there were failures by technology-related service providers, they would conveniently attribute it to technical issues, taking no further accountability on their part because of small fines and lenient penalties.

The NDI Bill outlines the offences and penalties for users ranging from petty misdemeanours to fourth-degree offences. However, the liability for wrongdoings committed by governing and administrative bodies is addressed separately, allowing them to pay “suitable damages”.

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji (PhD) supported the MP’s recommendation. He said that the government should provide clarity on the minimal penalties imposed on governing and administrative bodies, considering that these entities served as the vital hosts for NDI.

“If the host fails in their responsibilities, the penalties should be categorised as third and fourth-degree offences,” he said.

Athang-Thedtsho’s MP Kinley Wangchuk said that it was important to separate offences committed intentionally or negligently in the Bill.

Section 136 of the Bill states: “The Governing Body or Administrative Body shall pay appropriate damages caused intentionally or negligently to a natural or legal person if they fail to comply with the obligations under this Act or the Governance Framework.”

The MP said that it was acceptable to pay appropriate damages for mistakes made due to negligence. However, for offences committed intentionally, there should be a separate section to clearly define the corresponding penalties.

The house deliberated on the 55 recommendations submitted by the Good Governance Committee over two days. The committee will submit its recommendations on the proposed changes from the members to the House today.

The NDI Bill will be adopted today.