The introduction of online authentication as part of the new electronic national identity card in Germany

This chapter provides an analysis of the long process of introducing an electronic identity for online authentication in Germany. This process is described as a multi-facet innovation, involving actors from different policy fields shifting over time. The eID process started in the late ‘90s in the context of eGovernment and eCommerce with the legislation on e-signatures, which were supposed to allow for online authentication of citizens. When after 5 years it was recognized that this was not the case, a new digital ID card, which had meanwhile been announced, was chosen as token for the eID. This process was dominated by the concerns for visual inspection and border control, including the storage of digital fingerprints. Under the leadership of the Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and technical guidance of the Federal Agency for Information Security (BSI), technical specifications have to a large extent been adopted from the electronic passport, which had been smoothly introduced 2 years before. However, in the legislative process some concern regarding digital fingerprints on the eID card was raised and led to an opt-in solution. In 2009, a bill on the new ID card was passed which regulates the eID function for online authentication as well. This is characterized as a radical innovation by introducing a double-sided, mutual authentication of the citizen and the service provider and implementing the principle of proportionality regarding the access of service providers to data on the chip. At the time of writing, field tests are conducted. Roll-out of the new eID card is to start in November 2010. Therefore no figures about adoption can be provided here.
Keywords ID card  Double-sided authentication  Electronic passport  Privacy enhancing authentication  RFID chip
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DOI 10.1007/s12394-010-0051-1
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