Semiconductor companies Infineon Technologies AG and NXP Semiconductors Germany (NXP) and chip card maker Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) are among eleven companies from six European Union (EU) countries participating in the European research project [email protected] to develop a high-security chip card platform. [email protected] is 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 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 because [email protected] are able to identify themselves electronically and carry out biometric authentication on the Internet.
The 27 EU member states have about 500 million inhabitants, and an estimated 380 million ID cards are currently in circulation. The objective of the [email protected] 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, casting a vote in elections, and other services provided by the retail, banking, and insurance sectors. The [email protected] research project entails the further development of the security chips, the card operating system, and the security software for the Internet PCs used by citizens and public authorities alike.
In their contribution to the [email protected] project, the two semiconductor companies Infineon and NXP are working on refining encryption technologies for chips. Another main focus is to enhance the data transfer rates between chip card and reader. G&D is developing a chip card operating system which, by means of conventional Internet protocols (e.g. TCP/IP, HTTP, TLS, and SOAP), will allow the chip cards to be used with Internet PCs without the need to install additional software components. The connection between the chip card and the PC can either be wireless or via a USB interface.