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Germany: New electronic identity cards by November 2010
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The design of the future German identity card has been unveiled. Credit-card sized and made of polycarbonate, it will be issued from November 2010 on. The new card aims to ease the citizens' transactions with government and businesses and to increase security as well as to enhance public confidence in electronic services.

The front side has the image of the federal eagle, whereas on its reverse side the Brandenburg Gate is depicted. The new card contains numerous security features in order to increase protection against forgery. A special feature is that the holder's details are digitally stored. It is also capable to carry a digital signature. Both features will allow card holders to complete commercial online transactions as well as official business with government offices.

Additionally, vending machines will support the use of the new ID card, mainly for age identification purposes, for example when purchasing cigarettes. The well-known functions as ID card, however, remain intact.

Great emphasis will be put on privacy, data security and the citizens' ability to self-determine the extent of access to their personal data. All information and transactions will be securely protected by means of internationally recognized and established encryption techniques.

An access system based on authorization certificates issued by the state regulates who can access which identity data stored on the card. The ID card holder keeps full control as to what information will be sent over the Internet to relevant service providers, by authorizing access to selected data categories and by using a six-digit PIN number.

Access to particularly sensitive information, such as the digital photograph or the fingerprints, is available only to the explicitly competent authorities. In addition, the ID card must be presented physically in order to prevent unnoticed access. In any case, biometric data cannot be transferred to any commercial service providers or via the Internet.

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