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New technology

Belgium introduces electronic passport

26 February, 2003
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Ignoring criticism from the national privacy authority, Belgian parliament approved of the introduction of an electronic passport. The new chipcard will be tested in 11 municipalities. If the pilot succeeds, all inhabitants of Belgium will have an electronic ID within 5 years. The new credit-card sized passport shows regular data like name, date of birth and national ID-number, but the chip will also contain the address-data.

The revised law simultaneously lowers the access barriers to the national register. Every public and private authority or any of its assignees are granted access 'to excise tasks of public interest'. On top of that, a newly instituted 'sectoral committee' can authorise any other sort of access-request.

The new credit-card sized passport contains several digital keys, to enable remote identification via internet. Personal data on the chip are secured via a public key infrastructure (PKI). To be able to read or scramble data, a combination is required of a public and a private key. The public key can be given out to everybody, while the 'private key' is locked in the chip on the ID-card.

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