The Saudi Arabia gazette is reporting the launch of an electronic version of the national identity card of Saudi citizens.

The Ministry of Interior, represented by the Civil Status Department, launched the electronic version of the national identity card of Saudi citizens. The electronic ID under the name of “Digital ID” will be available through “Absher Individuals” service of the ministry’s Absher portal application on citizens’ smart phones, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Muhammad Al-Jasser, spokesman of Civil Status, that the Digital ID will facilitate the process of verifying the identity of citizens, who are holders of it, in the event that they do not carry their original ID card.

“It will enable the beneficiaries to view the ID data electronically through the variable QR code of “Absher Individuals” application. The beneficiaries can download a copy of the Digital ID on the smart device to take advantage of it without the need to connect to the Internet,” he said.

Al-Jasser said that the Digital ID would be a turning point in developing the process of electronic transactions for individuals with the relevant sectors in the ministry’s “Absher Individuals.”

There does not seem to be mention whether non-citizens will use the same platform. Immigrants in Saudi, especially from the Greater Horn of Africa, face persistent tyranny from their employers. Their way to navigate the system is directly linked to possessing their physical identification documents, which are mostly retained by their employers. A digital ID may make life even harder if it is required for basic services like housing, health, and travel, if immigrants cannot enroll on to the platform like citizens. Fundamentally though, digital IDs are almost always meant to exclude and surveil. Their use should be minimized to the absloutely essential moments.