France launches new digital identity cards

Paris, FranceEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Mar 18, 2021, 06:13 PM IST

French President Emmanuel Macron Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

The new cards were approved by the French government on March 14 and were launched to prevent identity theft

Identity cards have become an inseparable part of our lives. From the office to voting booths, they are required everywhere.

They follow a common template all around the globe and include details about every person's name, gender, address and nationality.

The French government has launched digital identity cards equipped with QR codes and fingerprints. It also has an electronic chip that acts as an all-access key.


The new cards were approved by the French government on March 14 and were launched to prevent identity theft.

According to French Citizenship Minister Marlène Schiappa, "The identity card as you know it, as the French know it at the moment, it will gradually be replaced by a new object, the one we have been able to discover, more practical, new, which has a format more suitable for the pocket or the wallet. It is also an object that is more protective of our rights, and more secure, which will take its place in our daily lives."

The QR code at the back of the ID cards makes it much more secure as it will prevent the production of counterfeits.

The old cards, which are 25 years old, will be replaced by new ones that will be rolled out from March 29.

Although Europe is a highly digitised society, that comes with a downside.

56 per cent of Europeans have experienced some kind of fraud in the last two years. One-third of those cases were of identity theft. This had caused a setback of around 24 billion euros.

Reverse digitisation

There are privacy concerns over France's new ID card as critics claim its technology has loopholes.

They claim that storing all their personal data in a single chip is highly risky.

Previously, in a row over India's Aadhaar card, it was condemned as the most unsafe identity document ever.

However, for millions of ordinary Indians, the Aadhaar card was a ticket to welfare schemes, bank accounts and a better life.

Despite their drawbacks, identity documents are potent tools in rolling out welfare schemes.

In the United States, the social security number was called a privacy ''time bomb.''

Hackers claimed that by using algorithms, publicly available data can be pieced together to generate a person's social security number.

However, it helped America recover from the Great Depression.

Last year, there were reports that Britain was mulling a digital identity card. As a result, it received a barrage of criticism. It was described as government over-reach.

Identity documents are crucial for survival during the coronavirus pandemic that many health experts consider as a public health crisis.

US President Joe Biden had said last week, "The government isn't some foreign force sitting in a distant capital. It's all of us. We the people."