The handover of the final research report to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) at the end of July marked the completion of the biggest chip card research project in the European Union. The research 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 will help to replace time-consuming 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 (G&D) and chip manufacturers Infineon Technologies AG and NXP Semiconductors Germany GmbH (NXP) were three of altogether eleven companies from six EU member states who – as from February 2008 – conducted research into the development of high-security chip card technologies in the BioPass project. The German Federal Government attaches great importance to IT security and data protection, and therefore the research project received BMBF support.

The research activities encompassed the further development of the security chips and their encryption technologies through to the development of the card operating system and security software for the Internet PCs used by citizens and public authorities alike. The research partners 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 handover of the final report end of July 2011 marked the completion of the BioPass research project. The budget totaled some Euro 13 million, half of which was provided by the participating partners from business. The other half was covered by funds from the European EUREKA cluster CATRENE/MEDEA+, which are provided by the national governments. The German BMBF supported the BioPass project with about Euro 2.8 million under the “Information and Communications Technology 2020” (ICT 2020) program as part of the German Federal Government’s High-Tech Strategy. One of the aims of the ICT 2020 program is to consolidate and strengthen Germany’s position as a technology leader in the ICT and ICT security sector.

Further information on the BioPass project and the project partners is available at

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