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Government Privacy

Russia Moves To Universal ID Card 200

Posted by timothy
from the current-white-house-will-consult dept.
prostoalex writes "On January 1st 2012, the Russian government will start issuing universal ID cards (Russian original) that will replace current national identification system (Russia has a system of internal passports), medical insurance cards, student IDs, public transport passes, and debit cards. The smart card contains unique personal identifiers and allows for multiple levels of authentication. The Russian government is pushing for local government agencies, transportation providers, banks and retail operators to adopt the government-issued ID to streamline their operations."
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Russia Moves To Universal ID Card

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  • will replace current national identification system... debit cards.

    So it's basically one card that replaces everything? What if I want multiple debit cards from multiple banks?

    I like and want to keep my multiple cards.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:31PM (#34885640) Homepage
      One Card to rule them all, One Party to find them, One System to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

      (Apologies to JRRT)
    • by siddesu (698447)

      No. Reading the Russian explanation it looks like a card that can be refused by filling out a refusal form (so not mandatory), it is only for government federal and local services, and, loosely quoting the explanation "has potential to be used elsewhere".

      Since this is a company site, it is likely too optimistic about the card.

      Too lazy to read the law, maybe some Russian slashdoter can step in and explain better.

      • Reading the Russian explanation it looks like a card that can be refused by filling out a refusal form

        this isn't a network card is it?

        might then be the first (wait for it) refuse-NIC

        thank you. I'll be here all week.

        • by siddesu (698447)

          Well, since its purpose is to identify by providing your name on it, I guess you could call it Name Identification Card.

          Then refuse it.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      They'll just be assigned to your unique ID. Like showing your license to get a checking account. All your account link back to you.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        So sort of like a Social Security card except without the promise of only using it for one thing.
    • by owlstead (636356)

      TFA sais you *can* connect it to your bank account. Even though this is just a translation, I have the feeling that it actually is the idea behind it. You may be able to connect it to the bank account of each bank if you want to.

  • by $criptah (467422) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:29PM (#34885620) Homepage

    Estonia has used ID cards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonian_ID_card) for some time and I am seriously surprised that more governments are not following the same footsteps. While the cards may introduce new security concerns, imagine the amount of bureaucracy that can be reduced if citizens can pay everything from traffic tickets to taxes using a simple card.

    • Why even have the card? Sooner than we may think, the chips the size of a grain of rice will allow us to make payments, or identify us so we can be brought in for questioning about our Facebook postings. Think of the savings to society!

    • by syousef (465911) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:57PM (#34885872) Journal

      Estonia has used ID cards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonian_ID_card) for some time and I am seriously surprised that more governments are not following the same footsteps. While the cards may introduce new security concerns, imagine the amount of bureaucracy that can be reduced if citizens can pay everything from traffic tickets to taxes using a simple card.

      "may introduce new security concerns" huh? The Russian Mob must be drooling. No more having to forge 30 different documents. 1 to crack and you own (or create) someone.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:21PM (#34886652) Journal

        Russian mob doesn't need to forge documents, mate. They're the guys in power!

        • What's the difference between a highly structured mafia organization with decent moral standards/a reasonable love for peace and quiet and a government?
          • None, really, but "decent moral standards" does not apply in this case.

            • My take on it is that Russia is basically crazy, and that the assassinations and general hellraising have been done by people acting outside state control. Large parts of Russia have on many levels no governmental control at all, as I understand it. And - evil ogliarchs "stealing state property"? Okay, Putin solved that by yanking it back from their control - and then people complains that the government stole the property?
              • the assassinations and general hellraising have been done by people acting outside state control.

                I doubt that. For example, it is pretty much common knowledge that Anna Politkovskaya [wikipedia.org] - one prominent assassinated dissident journalist - was killed on behalf of Ramzan Kadyrov, the current president of Chechnya - and a favorite of Vladimir Putin.

                Large parts of Russia have on many levels no governmental control at all, as I understand it.

                Um, not that I know of. Can you give some specific examples?

                And - evil ogliarchs "stealing state property"? Okay, Putin solved that by yanking it back from their control - and then people complains that the government stole the property?

                You have to understand the context. When people are complaining about oligarchs stealing property, they usually refer to privatization [wikipedia.org], which was essentially a scheme to defraud the population as a whole (

    • by houghi (78078)

      Belgium has identity cards as well. Want to know what is on the cards? Read the code. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_identity_card [wikipedia.org] This makes it easy to be used for online things and many people already use it to do their taxes online.

      You are required to carry it with you at all times. I was asked once to show my ID. The next day I saw they were doing the same with somebody else who had about the same clothing and the same build I had, so they were clearly look

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:33PM (#34885652) Journal

    Were there any advantages to the Russian people of the fall of the Soviet Union? Ignore the half a dozen oligarchs whose limits on greedy and corrupt behaviour were lifted. Consider the other 141 million people.

  • by NoSig (1919688) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:39PM (#34885704)
    I was just thinking that this is a privacy nightmare. However, if you make it so that each entity that needs to query the card gets its own id unique to the pair of queryer and card, instead of having one id for everything, then it can be just like having lots of different cards that just happen to inhabit the same physical space. So e.g. a hotel you check into can scan your card to know that they can track you down if you don't pay them. However, until they can show that you didn't pay, the government would not have to tell them who owns the card that was scanned. It could even be made so that you could check in twice with the same card and the hotel would get two different ids and so couldn't tell that you were the same person. Also, if the code the card gave was a once-off thing that was just generated from the card itself, the government also would not know that you checked into the hotel using your government id until the hotel comes asking for your identity because you didn't pay the bill. The same system could be used to prevent different government agencies from comparing notes on you, since they'd be working with different ids that can only be matched up if they can make a case to a judge or similar that this is necessary. That's much better privacy that you could potentially get with a card like that than you currently do with a credit card. Not that I have any illusion that this is what is happening in Russia.
    • by johnhp (1807490)
      Different cards or businesses would only keep their keys to themselves for so long.

      Eventually, you'd see a little EULA on a screen where clicking yes means they can share their key with a group of others businesses, to "serve you better". Eventually, some terrorist attack will occur and the government will decide that it should have a master key to track all spending in order to search for suspicious purchases. Eventually, the IRS will access all of your income and spending and property records and w
      • by NoSig (1919688)
        You didn't understand the suggestion - companies would be unable to figure out that you are the same person from your card even if you go shop there every day. So pooling their info would be pointless for them. The card gives a different id every time it is queried. Only the issuer can tell that all those ids are for the same card. The issuer would be the government, and the idea would be that getting access to the card database requires a warrant the same way searching your property requires a warrant. Inf
        • It's a great idea. I'd like to see one additional factor added -that through crypotographic means the system would require that the recipient of an unique ID also provide some sort of key unique to that transaction in order for the central database to reverse the unique ID back to the "citizen ID" - that way it would be impossible for anyone with access to the central database to just generate a list of all unique IDs for a specific "citizen ID." That would still serve the purpose of dealing with individu

  • In Soviet Russia (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RLiegh (247921)

    You must wear the Mark of the Beast [wikipedia.org] in order to buy or sell.

  • In Soviet Russia, er, uh... hmm.

  • ... but if you read the title it clearly says it is an ID card, not a debit/credit payment card.

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:17PM (#34886016)

    First, this is NOT an ID card (at least at first), it's just a government-mandated standard card. Second, Russia _already_ has a universal ID system - internal passports, which have nice unique ID numbers and every citizen by law must get a passport. A lot of things (bank accounts, phone numbers) are already linked to passport serial numbers, so it's not like it's hard to correlate these data.

    Interestingly enough, it's not used for oppression of political opposition. Mostly because it's not of much use to know where your political opponent is.

    In my opinion, ID cards are better than paper passports - they are physically smaller and easier to carry and do not fray around the edges as easily as paper documents. A major boon of ID cards should be the ease of cancellation. A stolen paper passport is a disaster, a stolen ID card should just be a nuisance.

    However, though internal passports are a legacy of the USSR, they have some advantages too - they can contain more "naked-eye visible" information than a credit-card-sized ID card, like marital status, information about children, blood type, etc.

    • by Stregano (1285764)
      You know, I thought it was a great idea to use up all of my mod points until I saw this. If I had a mod point, I would get you with a +1 insightful since you can shed some extra light on the id cards. Somebody else out there, please, mod parent up
      • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:06PM (#34886278)

        A little more depth. There is a talk about deprecating internal passports and replacing them with ID cards, however as far as I understand this card will not yet be the national ID card.

        I'm reading specifications for this card, and so far it seems that government is just mandating a single standard for micropayments and ID transmission info. Which certainly makes sense (I hate buying subway passes every time I visit Moscow).

        Internal passports are interesting in themselves. They were first invented during the USSR era as means of migration control. In order to get a job each citizen of the USSR had to have a local registration ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propiska [wikipedia.org] ), it's a stamp on a passport page. And to get a propiska one had to have a local job - a nice Catch-22 scenario. And living without registration in the USSR was actually a crime that could get you behind the bars. With the fall of the USSR, both of the requirements for propiska were lifted, even though the requirement for the mandatory local registration remained in place (though now punishment for living without the local registration is trivial, about $15, AFAIR).

        But local registration has been transformed from a barrier into a bureaucratic nuisance (or hell). It's now a classical Brazilia situation - state can't nominally refuse you to register, but it can make it thoroughly unpleasant.

        The proposed ID card will _finally_ kill off the propiska for good. As a citizen of Russia, for me it's much much much better than nebulous additional threats to privacy.

  • Really? (Score:4, Funny)

    by fred fleenblat (463628) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:08PM (#34886284) Homepage

    I mean, the universe is pretty big.

  • This is excellent news as we can now learn about all the ways such an ID system can (and will) malfunction and can (and will be) be abused (from a safe distance). Once again Russia's tradition of scientific curiosity and ruthless large-scale social experimentation will blaze the trail for us!

    But seriously, adopting such a scheme nation-wide has numerous scary aspects, starting with privacy and then branching out into security, abuse, impersonation, spoofing, data theft, management, technical implementatio

    • by augustw (785088)

      The EU hasn't adopted a single ID card yet because it simply doesn't have the power to do so.

    • by PPH (736903)

      This is excellent news as we can now learn about all the ways such an ID system can (and will) malfunction and can (and will be) be abused (from a safe distance).

      Wasn't the British experiment [wikipedia.org] enough?

  • ...if the government doesn't like you, all they have to do is dig into your activities to find something illegal and use that as a reason to disable your ID-card and transform you into a second-rate citizen?

    I'm sure they won't do this the first ten years, or at least until everyone is used to having a chip inside their bodies, but once the chip is the only way to be part of society, they can do whatever they want. And that's scary.

  • In Soviet Russia this thread would not have "In Soviet Russia" jokes.
  • If so, the system is *good*. If not, it's *bad*.

  • Hello! This is the start of 1984, New World Order stuff. This is a BAD idea!

    The Answer to 1984 is 1776!

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