Europe-wide electronic ID scheme on the agenda

Further details of the Europe-wide ID system known as Stork were due to be unveiled at the Information Security Solutions Europe (ISSE) conference in Madrid today (Thursday).

Oct 9, 2008
By Paul Jacques

Further details of the Europe-wide ID system known as Stork were due to be unveiled at the Information Security Solutions Europe (ISSE) conference in Madrid today (Thursday).

The Stork project is expected to help bridge the gap between the different eID (electronic identity) systems currently in use, leading to a de facto standard for interoperability in eIDs.

The deadline for this is 2010, when the EU’s European eID Management Framework comes into force.

Co-funded by the EU, Stork (Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed) is an initiative aimed at implementing cross-border recog­nition of national eID systems that will enable European citizens to use their national electronic identities in any member state.

It will also pilot trans-border e-Government identity services and test what benefits and challenges an EU-wide interoperability system for recognition of eID will bring.

“Electronic identities do not yet do enough for mobile EU citizens,” said Viviane Reding, commissioner for Information Society and Media.

“By taking advantage of the development in national eID systems and promoting mutual recognition of electronic identities between member states, this project moves us a step closer to seamless movement between EU countries that Europeans expect from a borderless single European market.”

The Stork project will look closely at how systems across Europe can be unified to enable citizens to travel more freely and gain access to public services. In the short term, it is not intended to replace the existing passport regime.

According to Roger Dean, executive director of EEMA, the European e-identity and security association that is spearheading the initiative, so far the scheme has focused on how governments can identify their citizens when they are in other EU member states.

Privacy issues will also be considered in the light of the existing agreements between the EU and the US, as well as the Prum Treaty that allows European police forces to share information such as DNA data.

The ID cards are expected to hold basic identity details as well as photo identification, and other biometric data such as fingerprints, facial scans and iris scans that will be linked to the NIR, which will be the Government’s authoritative repository of identity data.

Without replacing national schemes, the new system will allow citizens to identify themselves electronically in a secure way and deal with public administrations either from public offices, their PC or mobile devices.

It means, for example, that a student will be able to register in a foreign university using his/her home country’s electronic identity. Some cross-border services already exist, including a Belgian web portal which allows foreign companies to register to employ citizens from Sweden, for example. After completion of the project this should be possible using their national electronic identity card.

The Stork workshop at ISSE will discuss ways of:

•Developing common rules and specifications to assist mutual recognition of eIDs across national borders.
•Testing, in real life environments, secure and easy-to-use eID solutions for citizens and businesses.
•Interacting with other EU initiatives to maximise the usefulness of eID services.

These will be implemented through a series of pilot programmes that will test the common specification on eID for applications that impact on e-Government across Europe.

Throughout the EU, some 30 million national eID cards are already in use to access public services such as claiming social security and unemployment benefits or completing tax returns.

The Stork project will run for three years and receive ten million euro funding from the European Commission and an equal contribution from participating partners.

It will test some of the most useful eID services by defining a set of common specifications that allow for the secure recognition of different national eIDs and which will be

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