In a bid to revolutionize Bhutan’s digital economy and enhance social security, the government introduced the National Digital Identity (NDI) Bill 2023 yesterday, during the first sitting of the 9th session of the Third parliament.
This proposed legislation seeks to empower all natural and legal persons by granting them a digital identity accessible through personal devices. The NDI will enable seamless digital transactions such as applying for financial services, employment opportunities, government-to-citizen services, and more.
Furthermore, citizens will be able to utilize their digital identity both within the country and beyond its national boundaries.
One of the primary objectives of the NDI Bill is to synergize with the Civil Services Reform Act 2022, aiming to streamline processes and achieve cost savings through digitization efforts.
By integrating digital identities into various sectors, Bhutan aspires to fulfill its vision of becoming a “Developed Bhutan.”
The proposed NDI Bill will also lend legitimacy to existing laws, rules, and regulations by acknowledging digital transactions carried out during their enforcement. This recognition will provide a solid legal foundation for the use of digital credentials, the NDI Wallet, the NDI platform, and NDI services, facilitating both cross-sector and cross-border digital transactions.
By implementing the NDI Bill, Bhutan aims to ensure that individuals and organizations claiming their presence in the digital space are accurately identified. Consequently, the requirement for supporting documents to verify identity claims will be eliminated, providing a more efficient and secure digital ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the expenses associated with setting up the NDI system include verifying digital credentials (such as verifiable credentials) and paying transaction fees, as well as compensating the Governing Body members.
However, the benefits of using digital credentials for government, public, and private information systems would outweigh the implementation costs. Additionally, the need for physically signing legal documents would be eliminated through the use of digital signatures.
Additionally, the proposed NDI Bill 2023 will also include a system of delegated legislation known as the Governance Framework.
The framework consists of a set of regulatory documents created by the NDI Governing Body. These documents outline the necessary requirements, policies, and specifications that need to be followed in accordance with the rights granted by the proposed NDI Bill.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu