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Privacy and data security in credit card format


DowJones.de Guest Commentary by Dr. Christoph Schnabel, LL.M. , staff officer for the Hamburg data protection and freedom of information

As of 1/11/2010 begins the rollout of the new identity card. Germany thus enters new territory, both in the field of eBusiness and eGovernment . The card will change in size and appearance, and come along in the future in credit card format. On it are biometrics of the face will be located and requested by the respective passport holder ‘s fingerprints also .

All this is still not particularly revolutionary, but broadly in line with what , the new passport since 2005 or 2007th The real innovation is the authentication feature of the new identity card with which the card holder can be identified reliably even over the Internet. This feature is optional and will be released only at the request of the card holder if it is at least 16 years old. If this is done, then a service provider via the Internet, for example, the identity check the identity card holder if it uses a card reader and a six-digit PIN type .

The particular, and especially privacy-friendly , is that the service provider receives only the information he needs for his service . Is it (for instance in the case , subject to the minors) just to achieve a given age , so the service provider can query the card only this information and not the user’s identity or even the full birth date.

The risk of abuse is low : even if the stolen card and PIN to the thief is known , it can not so conclude without further legal transactions charged to the card holder . The ID card is just for identification, not proof that a valid legal transaction was undertaken. With the authentication function, citizens in the future perform acts over the Internet, which requires their physical presence has been to verify the identity. This will in particular facilitate the e-government , and enable the status of requests for re-registration or applying for certificates of good conduct online that previously required appointments and waiting times.

The recently presented a safety concern is true, but does not affect the identity , the high requirements, but the reader. This should citizens do not save at the wrong end , but absolutely purchase a reader with its own keyboard. Then stand in the way of a simplified eBusiness and eGovernment no safety concerns more.


Dr. Christoph Schnabel, LL.M. the Federal Ministry of the Interior discussed in the context of amending the law for the introduction of the new identity card and now works for the Hamburg data protection officer and information.