Yangyel Lhaden

The National Digital Identity (NDI) Bill tabled at the National Assembly yesterday saw support from most of the Members of Parliament (MP) and a few concerns regarding the digital gap, personal information safety, and protection of data from hackers.

NDI is an equivalent of a citizenship identity card in the digital world by using an individual’s unique biometric data to verify their identity.

The Act’s purpose is to provide innovative NDI infrastructure, encourage the use of digital credentials, support and encourage development of digital trust between issuers, holders, and verifiers, and enhance privacy and security of digital credentials and data.

Industry, Commerce, and Employment Minister Karma Dorji said that there was a need for an Act to provide legal backing for digital identities. “NDI offers numerous advantages such as users can conveniently access services remotely, and it can also serve as an international means of identity verification, similar to an electronic passport.”

“If NDI Bill is endorsed, Bhutan would become the first country in the world to have a digital identity Act,” Lyonpo Karma Dorji said.

Athang-Thedtsho’s MP Kinley Wangchuk said that it was high time Bhutan had NDI with the digital revolution.

“I support the NDI Bill as it has many benefits,” Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji (PhD) said, “However, I am concerned about the potential risks to the protection of private information. It is crucial to ensure the safeguarding of individuals’ personal data.”

Khamaed-Lunana MP Yeshey Dem expressed concerns about the relatively low level of digital literacy among the population. “I’m worried about the challenges faced by illiterate individuals who struggle to remember their phone passwords. How can we expect them to effectively secure their digital information?”

She said, in gewogs the digitally illiterate population is about 70 percent. “If our system is hacked, it would pose a significant national security problem. How will this issue be resolved?”

NDI was launched on February 21 this year.