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Germany To Roll Out ID Cards With Embedded RFID 235

An anonymous reader writes "The production of RFID chips, an integral element of the new generation of German identity cards, has started after the government gave a 10-year contract to the chipmaker NXP in the Netherlands. Citizens will receive the mandatory new ID cards starting from the first of November. The new card allows German authorities to identify people with speed and accuracy, the government said. These authorities include the police, customs and tax authorities and of course the local registration and passport granting authorities. There are some concerns that the use of RFID chips will pose a security or privacy risk, however. Early versions of the electronic passports, using RFID chips with a protocol called 'basic access control' (BAC), were successfully hacked by university researchers and security experts."
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Germany To Roll Out ID Cards With Embedded RFID

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  • by vinsci ( 537958 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:35AM (#33330410) Journal

    The new card allows German authorities to identify people with speed and accuracy, the government said.

    Unfortunately, they will also make perfect bomb triggers, when the target walks by.

  • Re:EU passports (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:01AM (#33330534) Homepage Journal

    ``It is important that technology-minded users learn not to apply the usual centralist approach to everything. We are not cattle.''

    We are not? Then why do we let ourselves be herded and look to the herders for our every need, including a sense of safety and comfort?

    Note that by "we" I mean the general population. It doesn't necessarily apply to you, or even to me. But new tracking measures are being rolled out, and I don't see a lot of people making a fuss about it - rather, I see a lot of people being in favor.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:06AM (#33330558) Homepage Journal

    You have that right. Letting people know how to use the chip would compromise security, you see. Don't believe the people who say the chip has already been broken. These weren't officially tasked to do so by the government, so their results don't count. Also, why are you asking questions about this in the first place? Do you want the boogeymen to win? This is for your own safety, man! How could you be against that?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:09AM (#33330574)

    "Ausweispflicht" means you have to have a passport or an ID card (You can have both, but you don't have to). You do not have to have either of them on you. Pissed off authorities are a fact of life, but they're not the law (yet). Public transport often requires a picture ID to be presented with a month pass. That is a contract thing and not related to the "Ausweispflicht".

  • Re:time to buy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drewhk ( 1744562 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:28AM (#33330628)

    All of my IDs and cards fit nicely in a metallic business card case. It's cheap, small, looks nice and blocks radio.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:41AM (#33330678)

    you'd think history would have taught them to maximize personal liberties, not to diminish them in any way? Oh well, there is still zeit fur packen zee bagen.

    No, they look to the government for guidance still. It's in the character. They still don't have real freedom of speech there.

    OTOH, if you look at what set of circumstances us Americans revolted against the King Of England for and how it is today, all you see is more government and taxes than they ever accepted in every aspect of our lives. And people constantly clamoring for more as a solution to their problems.

  • On the BAC thing... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wdi ( 142463 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:50AM (#33330704)

    This is the standard required by US immigration for foreign biometric passports.

    And only with these you can take advantage of visa-waiver (minus ESTA, minus new tourism support fee) entry into the US.

    So either your passport supports this, or you can make an appointment weeks in advance at a select US consulate in a city only a few hundred kilometers away if you want to travel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:52AM (#33330716)

    I guess you have never lived in Germany and heard of Ausweispflicht ? Which by law requires any citizen to be able to identify his or her self. Even only being there on holiday as a visitor you must still be able to identify yourself , been there done that. The authorities do not take it lightly if you "forgot" your ID either, depending on the situation. Although I will credit you the sitting out part, if they get the new ID now then they can wait it out. Although didn't the Germans already implement biometrical Passports (not to be confused with ID cards)?

    Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Yeah, there is Ausweispflicht in Germany. However (and please forgive me for mixing German and English here), this is not a Pflicht to carry your Ausweis at all times; rather, it's a Pflicht to ausweisen yourself when asked to. Carrying your Ausweis is the easiest way to do that, but it's not actually required you do that.

    Put another way: unlike with, say, a driving license, which you actually have to CARRY when you operate a motor vehicle, you do not have to carry your ID card; it's not illegal to not do so, and there's no fines or anything. It just means that the police may detain you temporarily while determining your identity, so in practice, it makes sense to carry your ID card anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:55AM (#33330736)

    Won't happen.

    The chip is based on the ISO14443-A standard and you can only communicate with it over at most 15 cm distance (about 6 inch). Under normal conditions the range goes down to roughly one inch. You have to walk very close to the bomb to set it off.

    A bomb will also have a hard time to identify you. The chip has an ID that is public readable, but for privacy reasons this ID is a random number that is only valid for a single transaction session.

    Also the article is wrong. The pass will not use the BAC protocol but the much improved PACE protocol. That's state of the art crypto. It's still broken by design because you can do a simple man in the middle attack over the air, but it is a lot better..

  • by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @07:08AM (#33330766)

    Yes, and the government is out on tracking everybody! Really if they want to track you they will no matter what. If I have to choose between a RFID chip in my ID card or a tinfoil hat and wallet. I'll take the RFID chip cause the chance of it being useful exceeds the chance of the government bothering to track everything I do.

    No, the thing is, without this kind of technology, they can choose a number of individuals they have resources to track at the same time. With this type of technology, they can track everybody at the same time. With modern storage capacities, a future government can retroactively check what you have been doing through your life.

    And it becomes a slippery slope. It starts with tracking terrorist suspects, proceeds to solving other crimes, and ends with tracking people who disagree with the current party in power and threaten their next election win, and after that all bets are off. Just hope you never visited a house where some opposition activist lived back then...

  • Re:time to buy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @07:16AM (#33330796)
    I think I'd just microwave mine till it stopped working. Make the bastards have to type it in every time someone asked to see it and claim I had no idea why their shitty card never worked,
  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @07:17AM (#33330802)

    Not really. You could have a card with RFID which embeds a key that unlocks data in the database. Since governments have control over the database one wouldn't have to worry much their data being looked at by unauthorised staff and if the database was ever stolen only your physical card could unlock it.

    Also there are benefits to having an ID card rather then a passport. One being you never run out of space for stamps and then have to spend lots of money on extending the pages or a new passport.

    ID theft is probably the biggest issue but that could be overcome by a combination of embedded key, thumb print and personal password; or in other words, something you have, something you are and something you know.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @07:36AM (#33330842) Homepage Journal

    No, they look to the government for guidance still. It's in the character. They still don't have real freedom of speech there.

    So it is only "freedom" if it is identical to your version of freedom ?

    Please, cut down the arrogance a few notches, you'll notice the rest of the world likes you a lot better if you don't go around all the time assuming that your way is the one and only true path to whatever.

    Our freedom of speech (I'm german) is as real as yours. We just have some priorities differently. For example, we don't allow people to threaten abortion doctors with murder under the cover of "free speech". Our version of your "free speech" is called "freie Meinungsäußerung". That has three parts: Free, speech and opinion. What it means is you can freely express your opinion. If you leave the area of expressing your opinion - and "we'll kill you" isn't an opinion anymore - you may run into trouble.

    And no, we don't look for the government for guidance. In fact, our current government is such a joke, anyone who does look to them for anything except satire is retarded. However, what we do is not share the ridiculous paranoia about the government that is visible in the US. We don't think anything done by the government is automatically evil and to be mistrusted. We view the government as an entity much like many others - capable of both good and evil.

  • Re:Awesome... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:02AM (#33330912)

    So what's the big deal? The Netherlands has had a digital ID card for doing business with the government for years already. Now perhaps you enjoy standing in a line somewhere, but I prefer handling my business from the comfort of my chair, at any time of the day that is convenient for me and at a total lower cost to the taxpayer.

    Now I don't quite see the point of RFID either, but being able to handle one's affairs over a distance sounds...convenient.

  • Mythbusters - RFID (Score:5, Interesting)

    by object404 ( 1883774 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:13AM (#33330954) Homepage
    Adam Savage's talk [] on the 2008 Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference on why Mythbusters was forced to not do the "how easy it is to hack RFID tags" episode is very, very interesting.
  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:30AM (#33331016)

    Yes, but you have to remember that Americans have a lot fatter asses than they have in Europe.

    I wouldn't be so quick to jump on that bandwagon. Although this is an older site, I can't imagine things have changed drastically in 5 years. The page was also updated in Dec of 2009: []

    Two out of three US men — 67% - are overweight or obese. Finland, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Malta have now all exceeded this figure. England and Wales are not far behind.

    The EU is so worried about it that it has launched its own campaign against obesity. 'The time when obesity was thought to be a problem on the other side of the Atlantic has gone by,' said Mars Di Bartolomeo, Luxembourg's Minister of Health.

    The tubby top ten:

    Greece (78.6% of blokes are overweight or obese)
    Germany (75.4%)
    Czech Republic (73.2%)
    Cyprus (72.6%)
    Slovakia (69%)
    Malta (68%)
    Finland (67.8%)
    Slovenia (66.5%)
    Ireland (66.4%)
    England and Wales (65.4%).

    Frankly, I don't think urban sprawl has anything to do with obesity in a significant way. I think it has to do with fat/calorie content of restaurant food (especially so in the US), and the fact that 'eating out', which used to be the odd occurrence here, has become more the norm for a high percentage of homes. Way too much fast food, or even regular restaurants that don't have healthy menu's. We also spend far more time isolated in our homes, on the internet, and watching TV.

    On a side note, I eat out a couple of times a week but I adapt my intake to compensate for shitty food that I might eat on occasion. I also spend 6-10 hours a week in the gym doing heavy lifting and I bicycle for 8-16 miles on the weekends. I live in the the deep south where obesity is even higher than the 'norm' for the U.S.

    I sometimes feel like a stranger in my own land given the looks I get in public at times.

  • by mwissel ( 869864 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:56AM (#33331140) Homepage

    The authorities do not take it lightly if you "forgot" your ID either, depending on the situation.

    Wrong, there is no actual problem with forgetting your ID, as there is no obligation to carry one with you - exception is the driving license when operating a vehicle. Actually the police may demand you to fetch your ID at home or whereever it may be, and they might demand to bring you there themselves when they think you might flee. But I think that only happens when you're in suspicion for something.

  • Re:Awesome... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:22AM (#33331264)

    So what's the big deal? The Netherlands has had a digital ID card for doing business with the government for years already

    Please enlighten me. Because for as far as I know, The Netherlands has:
    - a chip on the new passports containing biometric data
    - national account management for online government services (DigID)
    - smartcard-based PKI infrastructure for government employees doing financial transactions
    - a separate system for coordinating communication of medical records between healthcare officials (Elektronisch PatiëntenDossier, don't know the details of it)

    But none of those systems are connected:
    - you can't use the chip to authenticate yourself to officials, they still use the photo for that
    - the passport is not used in DigID authentication
    - there are no plans to replace the PKI-smartcards with additional data on the passport
    - the EPD developed its own system because DigID was deemed not secure enough

  • by cpghost ( 719344 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:24AM (#33331272) Homepage
    However, the fundamental liberties encoded in the German Basic Law (it's not a Constitution in the US sense) have eroded substantially in the last decades, because, unlike the U.S. with is very reluctant to amend its Constitution, Germans love to modify their Grundgesetz regularly... mostly to make it worse, i.e. take one more liberty away.
  • by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:09AM (#33331510)

    However, no ideologue, from the Left or Right, can reasonably claim we can house and feed the rest of the world as it decides to show up on our doorstep.

    Sure they can, perhaps not showing up on our doorstep, I mean a single nation can only hold so many people, but with universally available contraception so only people who want children have them, curbing population growth, and sustainable farming and forestry, there is enough arable land on the planet to feed and house 6 billion people.

    The problem is the insularity of nations, we want to make our own citizens happy but we don't give a shit about the rest of the world. I realise I am being absurdly idealistic but you claim it is not possible. It may never heppen, but it is quite possible for all nations to band together and guarantee welfare for all human beings

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:57AM (#33331764)

    It's a near field communication chip, which isn't easily readable from more than a few centimeters away.

    Maybe you were trying to be reassuring, but what that actually means is the device absolutely won't trigger until the victim sits at the bus stop, or restaurant seat or whatever. If the IED goes off 500 feet down the road, no problemo unless its a suitcase nuke, but if it doesn't go off until you sit on the park bench, then you're pretty much screwed.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:01AM (#33331786)

    A bomb will also have a hard time to identify you.

    Disagree. No response means no one is there and/or they're not German. Any response means there is a German, now do something (probably bad). You're arguing you don't know the state of Schrodingers cat. I'm arguing that knowing Schrodingers cat is present, is in itself a valuable datapoint.

  • by yyxx ( 1812612 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:09PM (#33333096)

    The lessons have been forgotten, so authoritarianism and militarism are once again on the rise in Europe, and will once again lead to the world burning.

    Having lived in Europe on and off, sadly, I can confirm this. Part of the problem is European arrogance: for more than two centuries, Americans have had to listen to Europeans about how superior their culture and political systems are, only to watch them self-destruct like clockwork. Europeans simply can't imagine that their supposedly superior culture leads to mass destruction and mass murder, again and again.

    That is the cycle of human history, and it cannot be broken, since no matter what lessons you might learn, your children won't, and their children certainly won't care.

    Other continents haven't been following this cycle. The US has had centuries of continuity and progress. South America and Africa don't have stability at all, but they don't have European delusions of grandeur either.

    There is something uniquely wrong with European politics and European culture.

  • by rcamans ( 252182 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:14PM (#33333566)

    It is illegal to threaten anyone in America with murder or any other form of harm. You have been reading and believing too many anti-American rags. (all rags published in Europe, for example).
    Cut down your own arrogance a few notches.

    Your government (Germany) has been maximum evil overlords more than once. Why do you have the idea that they have changed? Maybe they have learned to be less obvious about it, and not get caught?

    The American gov sucks big time, and will abuse any power that they can get their hands on, legally or illegally.
    Your gov is the same.

    The only difference is the morals and ethics of the people currently in the gov with access to these powers.
    American gov employees are low on the morals scale.
    I am sure Germans are similar. I think there is something about working for the gov, and military, that reduces morals, and attracts people with low morals, like our Bill Clinton, and a recent top gov official in Germany?

    Comparing bad to bad just wastes time and energy. They are all bad. Get over it. Stop crowing that your bad gov is not as bad as ours.

  • Look, an astroturfer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:56PM (#33333962)

    How does this even get modded up? Are slashdotters that uninformed?

    The standard requires the chip interaction to work at least up to 20cm distance. That doesn't mean it stops working at 21cm. In the same way the car whisperer [] guys talked to bluetooth carkits kilometres away that was only supposed to work up to ten metres, you can stretch RFID to at least 20 metres. In fact, that demonstration was why USA RFID passports come with tin foil embedded. And you only need a metre or two for a detonator to go off.

    Before you think that's alright then: Other governments don't provide that tin foil at all, still denying the problem.

    The chip is still uniquely addressable every time. You don't need to get the mark's name from his ID card (you've done your homework), and you can figure out what RFID tags he's carrying even on a busy street by following him long enough, like how cars find their own RFIDed tyre pressure meters.

    As to BAC vs PACE, I don't really care. Broken by design is BAD, and I don't want RFID in my ID cards at all. No, fixing it up with spit and baling wire, excuse me, tin foil, is not good enough. For my privacy and security both, ID needs to not be readable without me even noticing. Same goes for RFID payments and a whole raft of other things. I want proper design, not this new technology vendor solution looking for a problem pushing jerkfest. It's sticky man. Get me a clean card already.

  • by metalligoth ( 672285 ) <> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:19PM (#33335908)
    According to a Supreme Court decision, in every state you are required to show your drivers license or state ID if requested by a peace officer. (Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 2004)

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982