Feeds

EU security agency draws 'privacy baseline' for ID cards

Waits for measures

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Europe urgently needs to develop a strategy for protecting the privacy of data held through national ID card schemes, a European security agency warns.

ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) argues that the "vast disparity between privacy features in electronic ID cards across Europe" is creating a recipe for future trouble. Typical current applications for identity cards include their use for tax declarations and other e-government services, but more ambitious commercial application are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile Europe lacks a coordinated strategy on how to go about protecting personal data held on the cards.

This is both an obstacle to interoperability and a potential problem in making ordinary punters comfortable with using the technology, ENISA warns. Disclosure of data held on ID cards creates a risk of fraud or other forms of misuse but individual countries have been left to their own devices, resulting in a hodge-podge of different approaches.

ENISA is seeking to establish a "privacy baseline" for European ID cards with a new position paper, published on Tuesday, that attempts to provide an overview of the roll-out of electronic ID cards across Europe as the first step in developing a trans-national strategy on the technology.

"Privacy is an area where the member states' approaches differ a lot and European eID will not take off unless we get this right," said Andrea Pirotti, executive director of ENISA. "Europe needs to reflect on eID privacy and its role in the interoperability puzzle. The fundamental human right to privacy must be guaranteed for all European eID card holders. Therefore, ENISA will continue to work in this field in 2009".

Ten national electronic ID card schemes are already in use in various EU countries while 13 more are in development. Privacy-enhancing technologies exist but these have been developed, implemented and tested only at a national level.

The paper goes on to pick apart 11 potential risks to personal privacy resulting from the use of national electronic identity card schemes, as well as comparing eight potential risk mitigation approaches. Risks include a range of potential problems ranging from simply losing a card to skimming, location tracking and cryptographic attacks. Countermeasures include encryption, access control and biometrics.

This analysis (made with reference to the technical specifications of national identity cards and the available privacy-enhancing features they offer), aims to provide a starting point for "identifying best practices and a source of reference for future choices to be made by European policy makers", ENISA explains.

The European Citizen Card, ICAO electronic passport specifications are included but the main focus of the analysis is a comparison of European electronic ID card specifications, focusing on privacy-enhancing features. ENISA defines privacy-enhancing as "any feature of an eID card which increases the control of the card owner over which data are disclosed about them and to whom".

The 24-page paper casts the runes over the roll-out of electronic identity card technology over Europe. It includes numerous tables for easy comparison but doesn't go into much discussion about the relative seriousness of threats or a cost and benefit analysis of countermeasures, an omission that results in a clear and more readable analysis. Best practice is not explicitly advocated but at least the paper provides a comprehensive overview and useful starting point for further debate.

ENISA's ID card paper (PDF) can be found here. The agency, established in 2004, works with EU-institutions, members states and the private firms to develop and promote best practices in cybersecurity. Other recent papers have looked at issues such as cybercrime and information security risks from printing. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.