The European Commission has rejected privacy concerns linked to its planned revamp of physical European ID cards. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Commission rejects privacy concerns linked to physical ID card revamp


The European Commission rejected privacy concerns linked to a planned revamp of physical European ID cards.

Amid plans to introduce EU-wide digital IDs in the near future, the EU is also addressing physical IDs, mandating member states introduce certain security features.

Commissioners now reject the idea these reforms — which include adding a digital ID chip containing a holder’s data — could endanger individual privacy and security.

The European Parliament and Council decided member states’ identity cards “must contain a highly secure storage medium having sufficient capacity and capability to guarantee the integrity, the authenticity and the confidentiality of the data”, says justice commissioner Didier Reynders.

A chip is needed to allow physical IDs to “meet high security standards” and prevent identity theft, he says.

Reynders rejected one MEP’s suggestion adding the chip could allow individual EU citizens to be tracked.

The identity card chip is “well-established technology” and “the same that Member States have been using in passports for many years”, he says.

It is “encrypted and protected from unauthorised access,” he adds.

The commissioner’s dismissal of privacy concerns comes after EU officials controversially ignored similar concerns by cybersecurity experts about its current digital ID plans.

Cybersecurity experts say the digital ID currently introduces a possibility of “man in the middle” attacks and permitting any EU government to surveil encrypted communications.

Despite these concerns, the European Commission and European Council both agreed to go ahead with the project earlier this week.

Stressing the agreement is voluntary for now, its proposers celebrate the electronic ID “wallet” as being part of an effort to protect “democratic rights and values”.

The wallet has “the highest level of both security and privacy,” internal market commissioner Thierry Breton says, calling the digital ID a “world premiere”.

Experts in digital data privacy are less enthusiastic, with 500 cybersecurity experts signing an open letter last week criticising the current proposal.

“We are extremely concerned that, as proposed in its current form, this legislation will not result in adequate technological safeguards for citizens and businesses,” they say in the open letter.

“In fact, it will very likely result in less security for all,” they add.