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Brussels agrees pan-European ID standard

STORK sallies forth

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The planned universal electronic identity for all European citizens has moved a step closer - the technical interoperability standard has been agreed.

The full details will be unveiled 18 November at a conference in Malmo. But following a 14-country, 12-month trial, Brussels has agreed a common specification.

The project, which breaks every rule of acronym club, is called STORK - Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed.

In essence the scheme will allow you to use your UK electronic identity, for example, if you needed to access an electronic government service in any other member state. So once you have a guaranteed identity to get into the UK Government Gateway you could use it to pay French property taxes or a Spanish speeding fine.

The UK side of the project is run by the Identity and Passport Service - although it makes clear STORK has nothing to do with ID cards or the National Identity Register.

STORK's Miguel Alvarez Rodriguez said, as reported by PublicTechnology.net: “The main objective now is to test the model in real-time, with real people. Usability is critical to the success of the framework, so during the pilots we are expecting to refine and improve elements where necessary.

"Although it was a key factor in the conceptual design, scalability is also a challenge to be addressed in any future extensions of the project.”

There are five projects in the next stage:

- Providing universal access to some British, Belgian, Austrian, Estonian, Catalan and Portuguese government portals.

- Safer access to chat services by kids and young people.

- Making it easier for students to study in other European countries.

- Electronic delivery of documents across borders.

- Dealing with changes of address for people moving to another country.

The other joy of the project of course is that it spreads the British government's world-beating ability to lose data across the continent. In fact the British government got in early - it lost a USB stick containing 12 million Government Gateway access codes back in 2008. The stick was found two weeks later in a Brewers Fayre pub carpark near Cannock, Staffordshire. ®

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