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Plans for an all-inclusive ID card

May 28th, 2015

A left-wing pundit voices privacy concerns over the new ID bill which plans to replace at least half a dozen ID cards with one single ‘e-card’.

In Népszabadság, László Rab fears that the new system may in practice re-introduce an old one that was ruled anti-constitutional by the Constitutional Court in 1991.

The “personal number” was first introduced in 1978 and was used to identify citizens by all Hungarian authorities. In 1991, the Constitutional Court ruled that it gave the authorities too comprehensive an insight into citizens’ lives. The “personal numbe”’ system was finally abolished in 1995. Since then, Hungarians have to carry at least two cards if they want to identify themselves. The planned e-card will feature the holders’ fingerprint and is meant to replace their (currently separate) cards for tax, identity, health insurance, and permanent residential address, as well their driving licences. It will later also be used as a student card and a card for public transport, as well as the basis of electronic signatures.

Népszabadság admits that the new e-card will make life simpler for citizens, but only as long as they don’t lose it. If they do, everything will be lost and they will have to recover the data one by one from the various public agencies. In order not to be unconstitutional, the system must in fact preclude any merged storage of these data. One question however is precisely whether the informatics behind it offer sufficient guarantees against such all-encompassing data storage. Rab quotes experts in the field who believe that the bill should not pass until the technical details are not clear.

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