Billions of Identities

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Nov 01, 2010 @ 11:49 AM

Use of RFID Enabled National eID Cards and ePassports is Growing

ePassportThere are many uses of RFID to identify and sometimes locate people.  Some uses are controversial, some are very practical and can even be life saving.  During the month of November, we’ll be exploring how RFID can be used to identify, locate and track people for a wide variety of applications.  As we cover these topics - from tracking student attendance to “man-down” monitoring - we’re interested to know what you think, so please feel free to provide your comments.

National ID Cards & ePassports

Over the next decade we can expect to see a growing use of electronic identification documents (eID).  From issuing ePassports to secure air traffic, to using national ID cards to better administer local and national programs, correctly identifying people is an important step in many processes.

With all privacy and social concerns recognized, the use of eIDs can offer a great number of benefits including enhanced counterfeit prevention, automation of a variety of municipality-based services and use for emerging contactless transactions.  China and India have already begun to issue RFID and biometric enhanced ID cards to their 1.3 billion and 1.2 billion citizens respectively, and more programs are expected to launch within the next 1 to 3 years.  In fact, starting today, Germany will begin issuing new RFID-based national ID cards designed to provide citizens with a more secure form of identification. 

RFID has also been used in other forms of personal identification, like passports, for years.  The first ePassports using RFID were issued by Malaysia in 1998 and many other countries use them today, including Norway, Japan, most EU countries including Spain, Ireland and the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, the United States, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Albania, and The Philippines.

Online Safety

In addition to providing its citizens with a more secure form of identification, Germany believes their eID program offers a more secure way to conduct business over the Internet.  By offering RFID readers that can be installed on home computers, the German government hopes they can address ongoing worries about personal data security that have kept many Germans from joining the eCommerce revolution and making online purchases.  During the next 10 years, Germany expects to issue approximately 60 million ID cards and 1.2 million ID card readers to its citizens.

What are your thoughts about the growing use of RFID and biometric-enabled national ID cards and ePassports?  Do the safety and security benefits outweigh the potential risks?

Tags: RFID, eID, ePassport

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