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China: New ID Card Law Requires Recording Fingerprints

(Nov. 4, 2011) On October 29, 2011, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted an amendment to the Resident Identity Card Law (ID Card Law) and republished the law. (Text of the revised ID Card Law [in Chinese], XINHUANET (Oct. 29, 2011).)

Effective on January 1, 2012, the new law will require citizens to have their fingerprints recorded when applying for, renewing, or replacing their resident identity cards. (ID Card Law, art. 3.)

The new Law has added one section to article 15, which sets forth situations under which the police may check citizens' ID cards, to include “in the railway stations, bus stations, ports, docks, airports, or places designated by the municipal governments during major events, where the police need to identify the identity of certain people.” (ID Card Law, art. 15(4).) Under the current Law, police may only check ID cards of certain prescribed people, such as criminal suspects and people on the site of incidents “that severely endanger social order.” (ID Card Law, art. 15(1)-(3).)

The new Law also clarifies the expiration date of the first generation ID cards, which will cease to be valid as of January 1, 2013. (ID Card Law, art. 23.) The amendment also increases the punishments to be imposed on state organs, banks, telecommunication companies, and educational and medical institutes if they leak citizens' identifying information. (ID Card Law, art. 19.)