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Europe working on breeder ID documents standardization to improve trust

Europe working on breeder ID documents standardization to improve trust

There are ongoing efforts in Europe to standardize the issuance of breeder identity documents in a bid to bolster the integrity and trustworthiness of travel credentials obtained through them.

An analysis of how standardizing the issuance of breeder document can benefit the security of various credentials and how the standardization process might work has been explained in a three-part report published by Secoia Executive Consultants AG. Secoia is a consulting firm working in the area of identity, border management, and civil registration.

Breeder documents are credentials such as birth, marriage and death certificates which are a requirement for obtaining other important personal identity documents like biometric passports. Europe has standardized the security requirements for national ID cards, but those standards remain somewhat unsettled.

The standardization efforts are led by Working Group 19 (WG 19) of Technical Committee TC224 of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), whose work focusses on data collection, application, issuance and renewal processes.

The first part of the paper explains why it is important to set up common standards for the production of breeder documents in Europe.

Secoia Managing Partner Stephan D. Hofstetter wrote the report, and holds that while efforts have been made over the years to enable and enhance the physical security and integrity of identity documents such as biometric passports, “some weaknesses in the passport issuance process remain.”

Commonly used breeder documents such as birth certificates which are used to obtain travel documents “do not have the same protection level and which are much easier to counterfeit” because the “processes used by authorities to establish and verify a person’s identity are often laxer than the security of the document or credential they issue,” according to Secoia.

Given that new generation travel documents with advanced security features are difficult to forge, unscrupulous persons often focus their fraud attempts on the processes that lead to the issuance of those secure documents, the paper states.

One of the ways of addressing this, therefore, is by filling up the lacunas present in most civil status registrations systems which issue these breeder documents. The author points out that in Europe, the process for the issuing of travel documents is flawed in many countries because breeder documents enjoy very little security and are often paper-based.

“Most breeder documents are much easier to forge than e-passports, and by using forged breeder documents (via identity theft or fake ID) people can obtain genuine travel documents,” Hofstetter posits, adding that even in instances where the breeder documents are in digital format, there is difficulty accessing them in cross-border scenarios because of technical and legislative inadequacies.

The standardization process is thus inevitable because it will enhance interoperability, security and trust among European countries in the issuance of breeder documents. In Africa, there are reflections already in this regard with the idea of setting up a CRVS shared asset already being discussed.

The standardization process, according to Part 2 of the SECOIA paper, has been designed in five key parts, namely; framework, data model, basic technologies, profiles for birth, marriage/partnership and death certificates, and trust establishment and management processes.

The third part of the paper addresses the trust framework and policy aspects of the standardization process, emphasizing the human and security dimensions of identity management. The framework is developed based on three key hypothesis and two main building blocks.

Updates on the ongoing process will be released in subsequent papers.

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