Last week, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that all citizens aged 18 years and above will be assigned an official e-mail account to receive statements, bills and notices from the government. A recent report revealed that that the provider is looking into offering a value-added “secure” service using a biometric USB device.

The 1 Malaysia Email Project, purportedly to allow a direct and secure communication between citizens and the Government, is criticized by many for being an unnecessary government expense. It requires a fee of not more than 50 sen (less than $1) for every digital bill sent.

Khairun Zainal Mokhtar, the CEO of Tricubes, the company who have been awarded the contract, has said that the the company will be offering a biometric USB device that would allow myemail.my users to gain a more secure end-to-end data encryption for an additional fee.

The actual price of the USB reader was not revealed but Mokhtar said that basic account holders will still be able to send free emails that are encrypted with the commonly used Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol during transport.

The true function of the biometric reader is still unclear and considering the credibility of Tricubes, which is still in question for being chosen to spearhead the project after being at risk of getting delisted last year, it will surely attract another wave of doubt and criticism from netizens.

The 1 Malaysia email service is expected to be launched by July and aims to sign up 5.4 million users by year-end.