Indonesian Police Concede Ground on $4.7m ID Cards

An officer shows an Inafis card at its launch in Jakarta last
week. (Antara Photo)

The National Police on Thursday caved in to public outrage over its electronic data card system, agreeing to temporarily halt the Rp 43.2 billion ($4.7 million) project that appears to overlap with an existing identity card system.

But while the police said the halt was necessary to gain legal approval to waive a charge for card recipients, Tulus Abadi, chairman of the Indonesian Consumer Institute, said the Indonesia Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (Inafis) should be scrapped altogether.

The police have argued that Inafis will make it easier and quicker to issue permits. The cards will contain a chip with data about the holder, including fingerprints, date and place of birth, education level, and religion. The name of the cardholder’s parents, his or her skin color and facial characteristics will also be included.

Budiman Sudjatmiko, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the data contained in the Inafis card was already on the Home Affairs Ministry-issued electronic identity cards (e-KTP). “There are overlaps, so what I see is a more apparent business motive” behind the Inafis project, he said, referring to the lucrative contracts involved.

Others have criticized the invasive nature of the information to be store on the cards.

Five provincial police commands have already started to issue the cards, and about 2,000 have been distributed.

But as criticism mounts, the police have decided to stop issuing them, saying officials must first revise government regulations that will affect how much people must pay for them.

“We are, for the time being, halting the issuing of the Inafis cards because we need to propose that the government revise regulation No. 50 of 2010 on the levying of non-tax state revenue,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said.

He said that the revision was necessary so that the police can provide the card for free instead of requesting a payment of Rp 35,000 per card, as originally planned.

Activists and lawmakers have said that since the Inafis cards are intended as a public service, the police should not charge a fee for them. The police said that because the Inafis system was still in its trial period, no one has been charged for a card thus far.

“What is important is that we are not blamed for imposing a fee because this is actually required under government regulation No. 50 of 2010,” Saud said.

Changing the government regulation, therefore, is crucial, he said. Critics, however, argue that rather than fixing regulations for the Inafis system, it is more important for the government to concentrate on its other existing projects.

Indra, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said the overlap with the e-KTP project was evidence that the president could improve efficiency if he put his mind to it.

Imam Santoso, a sociologist from the Jendral Soedirman University in Purwokerto, Central Java, said the government should first focus on the nationwide e-KTP project, which he said has been plagued by problems and delays.

Tulus argued that instead of developing a new data project, the police should simplify its permit-issuing process, including for driver’s licenses.

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