e-Governance

German ID card to allow pseudonyms

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The German Home Office has issued a new electronic identity card for German citizens that will incorporate the use of pseudonyms for secure web access. According to the plans of the German Home Office, a credit card sized electronic identity card will be introduced in 2009.

The new electronic card will replace larger, non-electronic identity cards, which are currently in use. Apart from the usual personal information, the electronic identity card will contain biometric information, in particular digital fingerprints of both index fingers, and additional information for facial recognition. The new identity card will contain a pseudonym function. The new identity card offers the possibility of an electronic identity proof for e-Government and e-Business applications. The idea behind in creating electronic card is to generate a pseudonym that cannot be reconverted mathematically into the original card number. Using the pseudonym, the operator of a web service is guaranteed that the user is a 'real' person. The user, on the other hand, does not have to reveal their real name. Since the algorithms generate different pseudonyms for each web service, there is also no possibility whatsoever of tracking a person through the web. A pseudonym function on a mandatory electronic identity card has the potential to dramatically increase the interest of citizens to buy smartcard readers for their home PCs. These smartcard readers could also be used for healthcare smartcards.

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