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Wednesday, 03 November 2010 10:59

Germans worry about electronic ID cards

Written by Nick Farell


Ghosts of the Nazi and Stasi
The Germans are starting to rebel against their electronic identity cards that store personal data on microchips. The country which is uneasy about surveillance due to its Nazi and Stasi past is not that happy about the eIDs enable owners to identify themselves online and sign documents with an electronic signature.

According to Reuters  many Germans fear the eIDs which store the owner's date and place of birth, address and biometric photo, with fingerprints. Johannes Caspar, head of Hamburg's data protection agency, said some of the fears about the eIDs were no doubt the result of German history, in which the state twice acted as a kind of "Big Brother".

Apparently there had been a 10 percent increase in ID card applications in recent weeks, as wary Germans rushed to get another old-style one before authorities switched to issuing the electronic ones. A survey by German tech industry body Bitkom shows that more than 44 percent of Germans remain skeptical about the eIDs, according to 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.

Dirk Engling, spokesman for CCC said the high degree of protection against forgery which German identity cards have enjoyed up until now is being unnecessarily undermined by the overhasty introduction of a large-scale project which is both conceptually weak and technically dubious.

Nick Farell

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