Along those lines ...
By beuchelt on Jun 26, 2008
In my earlier article today I pointed out a rather significant security blunder in Germany, where a number of municipal IT departments failed to secure their systems. This lead to exposure of at least 500,000 personal data records to the internet - so far I have not heard that any affected person was informed about their involuntary expose to identity thieves.
In this context it seems a little untimely to publicly announce a new electronic signature program that will start in 2012.Under this program, anyone claiming any benefits from any public source (unemployment, social security, etc.) will be required to use a smart card with a personal key. In addition, employer will have to submit all salary and compensation information to a federal, centralized database that will be fully accessible to all participating government agencies on the federal, state, and local level. Contained in this database are obviously all employer records, but - in all likelihood - also all data records of current or past applications for government benefits. Employees are expected to pay for these new services themselves, with private sector financial institutions or government agencies playing the role of the trust broker.
This program is sold to the public in two ways: on the one hand, it is supposed to save the employers and the government agencies a lot of money by streamlining reporting and decision making processes. On the other hand, in its centralized form it is expected to help limit welfare fraud, which is quite common in Germany.
In and by itself, such a database seems harmless enough: it has some tangebile benefits, including significant savings for the private and public sector. However, this effort does not stand by itself. Over the past couple of years, privacy from prying government eyes has been under the most severe attack immaginable: A comprehensive tax ID that is coma