Another EU country has introduced an electronic identity card for its citizens. After Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Estonia and several other countries, the Republic of Malta has also been issuing ID documents with a smart card chip since August 2020. The 400,000 citizens of Malta will be equipped with the new document over the next few years, gradually replacing the old ID cards, which will remain valid until the planned expiration date.
The new Maltese ID card is contactless. It complies with European Union requirements and is therefore based on proven data formats. The keys and certificates used are compatible with those used in other countries. Like the electronic passport, which is now in widespread use worldwide, the Maltese identity document also stores biometric features, which means that an ID card can be securely assigned to its owner. In addition to the smartcard chip, the new ID document has various physical security features that make forgery much more difficult. In particular, the name and additional information about the holder are laser-engraved into the document.
In the near future, the Maltese government plans to offer e-government services via the Internet, which citizens can use with the new ID card as identity proof. This requires a card reader on the PC and smart card middleware.
Electronic identity documents are currently experiencing a boom. An electronic ID card is not only more secure, but also and above all enables a multitude of new applications. For example, the issuer can decide to use an electronic identity document for payment, as a health insurance card, for authentication on the Internet, as a driver’s license, as a door key, as a travel document, for digital signing and for age verification – to name just a few examples. In most cases, a secret key is used as a security anchor, which is stored unreadably on the chip and authenticated by a digital certificate.
Electronic ID cards play an important role in making the increasing digitalization secure and reliable. It is therefore to be welcomed that more and more countries are equipping their citizens with such documents.
To learn more about electronic identity card systems, check here.