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Secure Transactions News

German ID cards delivered on November 1

Thursday 11 November 2010

On November 1, the German government is rolling out the latest incarnation of the German national ID card, the so-called electronic ID. The new cards contain a smart chip using RFID technology. The eIDs enable owners to identify themselves online and sign documents with an electronic signature, which the government says should "increase the safety and convenience of e-business and e-commerce."

NXP Semiconductor earlier announced that its Mifare SmartMX secure contactless microcontroller chip, which is comply with ISO/IEC 14443A-4, has been chosen to power the new German contactless National Identity card. More than 60 million cards are expected to be rolled out over the next ten years.

Siemens IT Solutions and Services has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) to develop and integrate the IT solution for blocking functions of the ID card. This solution will permit electronic storage and management of block flags. Siemens IT Solutions and Services acts as the general contractor for the project and is cooperating with the German Federal Printing Office, Bundesdruckerei (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #10-19).

Moreover, SCM also announced it provides Chipdrive IT Security Kit, which protects personal data online when used with the new German electronic ID cards (cf. SIW #10-44).

The German ID card is using the BAC protocol as well, but only for the basic data which is printed on the front of the card, the picture and the name. Other fields are protected by a stronger proprietary protocol.

Yet many Germans fear the eIDs  which store the owner’s date and place of birth, address and biometric photo, with fingerprints voluntary  could expose them to data theft. Around 44% of Germans remain skeptical about the eIDs, according to a survey by German tech industry body Bitkom.

Some have raised concerns about the security of the new card. Members of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), a European organization of hackers, say issuing authorities are "insufficiently prepared" for the new ID cards and that electronic data could be more susceptible to criminal abuse (cf. SIW #10-38).