Citizens' personal details are being transferred to a digital data bank ready for the launch of new Smart Identity Cards next year. Officials insist that stringent surveillance provisions will prevent information from being leaked. Outlining the security measures yesterday at the Immigration Department's Data Conversion Centre, chief immigration officer Raymond Wong Wai-man said the department was also finalising the design of the smart ID card. About 100 staff from computer firm NEC, which has been contracted to convert the data from 10 million cards, are at work in a maximum-security centre on the site of the former Kai Tak airport. Their job is to supervise an automatic computer system that downloads data from microfilm to digital compact discs. Workers were legally bound to keep all data confidential, Mr Wong said. The compact discs will be stored in a safe wired to police headquarters to guard against thefts. Last year, when plans for the $3 billion identity card programme were raised by the Government, there was great concern personal data would be abused. Mr Wong said: 'Our priority in the current contract to convert data to digital discs is to ensure privacy is observed to the letter.' The Smart Identity Card will be formally launched in July. All citizens eventually will be issued with the new cards, which will bear photographs and finger prints. The chip on the smart ID cards will have multiple security locks and offer users a range of electronic services such as digital driving certificates and voting cards, Mr Wong said.