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Parliamentary questions
20 January 2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE)

 Subject: Electronic identification

In the past several years, information security breaches have been on the increase within the EU as well as globally. The matter has in part been exacerbated by the requirement to use passwords to access workplace systems as well as private emails and social media. On top of these, individuals need to memorise at least the pin codes of their bank and credit cards. The temptation to use the same password on several sites is great although this is precisely what should not be done, as a single stolen password can then easily be exploited to access the person’s email, business details and social media. Recent information breaches clearly indicate that there is a pressing need to get rid of passwords altogether. The technology giant IBM stated in its December forecast that passwords will begin to disappear within the next five years. Instead the company envisions readers which will identify individuals based on voice, facial features, the iris of the eye or a combination thereof. An alternative scenario is having sites such as Facebook or Google developed into what might be called general keys to the web. Users can already sign in to Facebook and from there log into other online services which may contain strictly private information. It is uncertain, though, whether Internet users are willing to hand this power to multinational companies. It is therefore likely that extensive information security breaches will persuade companies and governments in particular to abandon the use of passwords and adopt stronger identification instead, possibly along the lines of the biometric recognition envisaged by IBM.

Has the Commission kept an eye on the recent information security breaches and made any plans for the future regarding access by ordinary Internet users in the EU to truly secure and possibly cross-border means of identification?

Original language of question: FIOJ C 235 E, 14/08/2013
Last updated: 23 January 2012Legal notice