Chip manufacturers Infineon and NXP Semiconductors, and chip card maker Giesecke & Devrient are among the eleven companies from six EU countries participating in BioP@ss, the biggest chip card research project in the EU.
Its goal is to do the technical spadework for the introduction of an electronic ID card in chip card format valid throughout the entire EU. In addition to its function as an ID card, it will be capable of providing a secure means of authentication for services offered by governments and public authorities, with BioP@ss-holders able to identify themselves electronically and carry out biometric authentication on the Internet.
The objective of the BioP@ss project is to make chip card technology even more secure and easier to use so that, for instance, EU citizens can draw on the services of governments and public authorities by using their ID card on the Internet. Potential services include registering a change of address, registering a vehicle, filing a tax return (eGovernment), casting a vote in elections (eVoting) and other services provided by the retail, banking and insurance sectors (eBusiness). The project entails the further development of the security chips, the card operating system and the security software for the Internet PCs used by the citizens and public authorities alike. The aim is to ensure that the chips, operating systems and software conform to the various national ID document standards already developed by EU member states.
One example for such an ID document standard is the standard for the European Citizen Card, which is designed to enable EU citizens to file their tax returns from anywhere in Europe. This card enables electronic identification, electronic authentication and the use of an electronic signature in the Web.
A number of European nations – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and the UK – have already announced their intention to introduce electronic ID cards over the next few years that will conform with international standards. The 27 EU member states have about 500 million inhabitants, and an estimated 380 million ID cards are currently in circulation.
The BioP@ss research project, which is planned for completion by the end of June 2011, has a total budget of some Euro 13 million, half of which is being provided by the participating partners from business and industry. The other half is covered by funds from the European EUREKA clusters CATRENE/MEDEA+, which are provided by the national governments.