Tunisia has joined the ranks of countries experimenting with mobile ID. The Ministry of Communication Technologies has announced the official launch of a pilot program.
Dubbed “E-Haouia”, the mobile ID system will enable a number of functions for Tunisians, starting with online access to a digital birth certificate. Beyond that, government officials envision a mobile ID solution offering comprehensive e-signature capabilities, ultimately replacing the need for physical contracts.
It isn’t yet clear what the mobile ID registration process will look like for Tunisians, nor has the Ministry detailed its security features. But the government agency indicated that its e-signature capabilities will revolve around the use of QR code technology.
With a number of countries now exploring mobile ID technology, a range of approaches to enrolment and security have taken shape. Greece recently began the rollout of a mobile ID system that uses a One-Time Passcode, sent via SMS, in the registration process, and then uses QR codes for ID authentication. Colombia, meanwhile, has just announced an upgrade to a mobile ID system that uses facial recognition in the enrolment process.
At the very least, it’s clear that Tunisia’s system will link national ID cards to Tunisians’ phone numbers, thanks to government cooperation with the Agence Nationale de Certification Elecronique, or ANCE.
The Tunisian government’s launch of a mobile ID pilot arrives at a politically sensitive time in the country. Having previously suspended parliament and fired the Prime Minister, President Kais Saied recently pushed a national referendum granting his office sweeping powers, causing further concern among international observers about the durability of the country’s democracy.
In the west, meanwhile, digital ID critics have sought to associate such programs with autocratic styles of government and surveillance states such as China. Such critics may find further ammunition for their argument in the timing of the Tunisian government’s mobile ID project.