The Czech Ministry of the Interior has officially begun issuing the country’s new citizen identity cards that feature a contactless chip that carries the biometric data of the cardholder.
The new cards — which were issued as of August 2nd — are a part of the effort to ensure that the Czech Republic is compliant with new European Union regulations that require member nations to introduce biometric data in their national ID cards, with the aim of the initiative being to make counterfeiting more difficult while increasing the ease of free movement between EU citizens and their family members.
“Identity cards will now be more secure and we will still be able to travel around Europe with them, without having to carry a passport,” Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said.
In a move that will likely appeal to some privacy advocates, the Ministry of the Interior has stated that biometric data will only be kept in the registration system’s database for a maximum of 90 days. Furthermore, while the data is stored in the Ministry’s system it can only be used to authenticate the cardholder’s identity when the cardholder is crossing state borders.
According to reporting from Expats, had the new ID cards been issued without biometric data onboard, they would only be valid for use within the Czech Republic, and could not be used to travel between other EU member nations.
This move makes the Czech Republic the latest in a rapidly growing list of countries that are including biometric capabilities in their national ID programs. The use of contactless biometric chips in the cards is also a further indication of the increasing popularity of biometric smart cards, though the main area of growth for that market seems to have been in the secure payments market in recent months.
Though the new biometric ID cards are now officially rolling out, anyone with an older ID card will still be able to use it for several years more, possibly until August 3, 2031, when the most recently issued non-biometric cards expire. Older cards can be exchanged for the new ones, but the holder is subject to a fee if they wish to do so.
August 6, 2021 — by Tony Bitzionis