The final research report on smart cards was submitted to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) at the end of July marking the completion of the biggest chip card research project in the European Union.
The results of the “BioPass” project lay the technical foundations for future electronic ID documents in the EU. There are estimated to be 380 million ID cards currently in circulation in the 27 EU member states with their total population of about 500 million.
The technologies developed in the BioPass project are designed to replace laborious and costly paper correspondence between citizens and the state by electronic communication, hence reducing the administrative expenditure of states and the EU. They also contribute to raising the security level of future electronic ID cards and passports, while accelerating the data transfer between ID document and reader device and simplifying usage of electronic services for citizens.
The chip card maker Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, chip manufacturers Infineon Technologies AG and NXP Semiconductors Germany GmbH (NXP) were three of eleven companies from six EU member states who – over a three-year period – conducted research into the development of high-security chip card technologies. The German Federal Government attaches great importance to IT security and data protection, and therefore the research project received BMBF support.
The research activities included the development of the security chips and encryption technologies through to the development of the card operating system and security software for the Internet PCs used by citizens and public authorities.
The research demonstrated that the data transfer rate between electronic ID document and reader can be increased from 848 kbit/s so far to about 6.8 Mbit/s and theoretically could be further increased to up to 12 Mbit/s. The chip card operating system developed by G&D proves that the use of future electronic ID documents on the Internet is possible without the need to install additional software components on the PC.
A number of European nations – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Switzerland – plan the introduction over the next few years of electronic ID cards that conform to international standards and can use technologies developed in the BioPass project.
The budget for the research totaled almost $18.5 million, half of which was provided by the participating partners from business.