China’s top legislature on Saturday adopted an amendment to the Resident Identity Card Law in a bid to better protect residents’ personal information in identity cards.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved lawmakers’ suggestion of having Chinese citizens’ fingerprints recorded when they apply for or change ID cards.
Lawmakers held that including fingerprints in ID cards would help identify people in a faster and more precise manner and would effectively curb the counterfeiting and altering of the cards.
The amendment also increased punishment to those found guilty of leaking citizens’ personal information.
Civil penalties like apology, economic compensation as well as criminal penalties including criminal prosecution, detention and fine will be given to offenders.
Government offices and other pubic institutions like banks, hospitals and telecommunication offices could meet a maximum fine of 500,000 yuan (79,000 U. S. dollars) if found leaking personal information, according to the amendment.
The amendment stipulates that the first version of ID cards, which was launched in 1985, will be prohibited from using from Jan. 1, 2013.
In 2004, the country introduced a second version. By 2010, 1.04 billion people or 77.6 percent of China’s population, had received the second version of identity cards.
The amendment will take effect on Jan 1, 2012.