Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Angela Merkel - The New German Chancellor

Germany suffered tremendously under past German Chancellor Schröder's inept administration. Schröder's anti-capitalist and anti-Anglo-Saxon foreign policy led not only to a greatly diminished significance of Germany on the international scene but also severely damaged the German economy. Schröder's relationship to the European Commission was also icy.

Schroeder made many enemies, and few allies. German-American relations are at an all time low and German unemployment is at an all time high. Schröder's flawed policies are contributorily responsible for these - closely related - developments. We can think of nothing that is better in Germany due to the Red/Green Schroeder era - quite the contrary, everything is worse. "Goodbye Schröder" is great news.

His replacement is new German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first female Chancellor in German history, who takes office supported by an emergency "grand coalition" of Germany's two largest political parties, the conservative CDU/CSU and the socialist SPD.

Whereas Schroeder was a man who possessed many of the talents necessary to be elected Chancellor and almost none of the talents required to actually be Chancellor effectively, Merkel is nearly the exact opposite. Schröder was what the Germans call a "Blender" (all show but no go, i.e. someone who "blinds" to the realities), whereas Merkel is definitely more understatement. However, she probably possesses the leadership qualities necessary to exercise her office with great competence, which Schröder did not. That at least is our assessment of her qualifications. But she is not and can not be a German Maggie Thatcher (read Clay Risen at Slate for a superb background article). Her impact will be strong, but different.

Wolfgang Munchau of the Free Republic, November 21, 2005, has perspicaciously analyzed recent developments under the title "Schröder's legacy will haunt Merkel".

We are not as pessimistic as Munchau, who writes that Merkel may not make a big difference. Rather, we see signs of dynamic change in the offing for Germany.

As reported by Dan Bilefsky and Judy Dempsey in the November 24, 2005, International Herald Tribune, Merkel made two initial visits in her first 24 hours as Chancellor, to Paris and to Brussels. Her visit to Paris was made to emphasize the necessity of pragmatic German-French relations in Europe. On her visit to Brussels, her first stop was NATO headquarters, where Merkel assured NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer that German foreign policy would again be based on a firm transatlantic relationship, a transatlantic relationship nearly destroyed by Schröder.

Merkel then visited the European Parliament to be greeted by hundreds shouting "Angie". Thereafter she went to the offices of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium and afterwards talked with José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, surely attempting to mend fences. As Munchau writes:

"Domestic [German] politicians such as Mr Schröder have often portrayed the European Commission as an institution infested with Anglo-Saxon libertarian zealots who are out to destroy German industry."

Under Merkel, it is quite clear that German relations to the powerful European Commission will be normalized. The IHT quotes Merkel as reaffirming her position that Europe must focus on economic reform:

"so that in a globalized world we can keep up and be competitive."

Merkel also called on the EU to revive the EU Constitution.

As for French-German relations, Chirac is quoted as saying that "Europe is a bit like a car with a broken part".

The IHT writes on the Franco-German relationship:

"Merkel's advisers said the relationship between Berlin and Paris was no longer serving the interests of European integration and instead was becoming a relic of historical reminiscences and symbols."

In this regard, Karl-Heinz Kamp of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation is quoted as saying that:

"Merkel is not into symbols for the sake of symbols that characterized the Franco-German relationship. She wants it to be based on the issues."

A Chancellor who bases her policy on the issues is going to be successful. That is what successful leadership is all about - because leaders set the direction of movement. If the direction is correct, success will inevitably follow.

Clay Risen at Slate quotes Götz Aly at the online Opinion Journal of the Wall Street Journal:

"If Angela Merkel succeeds … the Federal Republic should see changes more radical than any since 1949."

Germany must change significantly to meet the demands of the modern age and that change can only be initiated at the top.

As Aly writes:

"A state that spends 48% of its budget on social-welfare entitlements and 14% on interest payments on a growing mountain of debt, and can only invest 11% in modernizing infrastructure, has long since lost its ability to act. It is bankrupt. Any company that behaved this way would rightly be liable for fraudulent avoidance of bankruptcy under German law. An economy that requires at least half the hourly wage to be paid over to the government in the form of taxes and entitlements, and on top of that significant consumer and corporate taxes, is no longer competitive."

Now we can put the previous quoted sentence into perspective as Aly writes further:

"If Angela Merkel succeeds in winning office at the September elections and, against great resistance in her own party, in remaining true to herself, the Federal Republic should see changes more radical than any since 1949. As a physicist, she knows that the relationship between cause and effect cannot be simply wished away. Her most formative experiences came during communist East Germany's collapse. She has seen what happens when a country uses up its material basis, when it sinks into social and national stagnation while a regime of lies plays on, like the band on the Titanic. Most influential German politicians spent their youth, student years and early careers in the fat boom years of the old republic on the Rhine. Ms. Merkel likes to tell them, even those in her own [very conservative] party, "You have no idea how socialist you are.""

In the end, the most socialistic position is still "survival for everyone". To achieve that end, Germany will have to change and we think it will change significantly, even though Merkel must function in a coalition government with the normally opposition socialists. The fact that the socialists have entered into this coalition at all clearly evidences their "will for survival". If that same will for survival is applied to the Germany which they lead, then their policies must also change.

That is why we think that significant reforms will now be made under the Merkel administration, coalition government notwithstanding.
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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Who Should Get an .EU ( .eu ) Domain ?

We posted previously on the fact that launch dates for .eu domains have been announced and that EURid will be the domain registry (see the EURid site here). As a technical matter for IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority of ICANN), the .eu domain is listed there as the equivalent of a country-code TLD (ccTLD).

As written by the EU Commission:

"Why have a .eu Top Level Domain?
The .eu TLD will be a new Top level Domain, introduced for use by individuals, organisations and companies in the European Union. It will not replace the existing national ccTLDs in the EU, but will complement them and give users the additional option of having a pan-European Internet identity for their web sites and e-mail addresses.

"The EU is one of the biggest users of the Internet in the world and the introduction of a .eu TLD will create even more opportunities to exploit this exciting technology."

Struan Robertson, Editor of OUT-LAW.COM, has an insightful article on "Why you should register a .eu domain name" even if your organization already has the domain it wants as a generic TLD (.com, .net, .org) or as a country-coded top level domain in Europe. The country codes for the current 25 EU Member States are:

.at - Austria
.be - Belgium
.cy - Cyprus
.cz - Czech Republic
.de - Germany (.de is for Deutschland)
.dk - Denmark
.ee - Estonia (.ee because .es was already assigned to Spain)
.es - Spain ( .es because of Spanish España = Spain)
.fi - Finland
.fr - France
.gr - Greece
.hu - Hungary
.ie - Ireland
.it - Italy
.lt - Lithuania
.lu - Luxembourg
.lv - Latvia
.mt - Malta
.nl - The Netherlands
.pl - Poland
.pt - Portugal
.se - Sweden
.si - Slovenia (this is .SI and not .SL, because .sl was assigned to Sierra Leone)
.sk - Slovak Republic
.uk - United Kingdom (.gb is also reserved by IANA but not used)

Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 provides:

"Candidate countries that are not due to join the European Union in May 2004 and member countries of the European Economic Area that are not Member States may request that their official name and the name under which they are commonly known in their own language and in any of the official languages as from May 2004 shall not be registered directly under the .eu TLD. To that end, those countries may send the Commission, within two months following entry into force of this Regulation, a list of those names which are not to be registered."

The EEA countries and their country codes are:

.is - Iceland
.no - Norway
.li - Liechtenstein

The EU Candidate Countries are:

Acceding Countries
.bg - Bulgaria
.ro - Romania
Candidate Countries
.tr - Turkey
.hr - Croatia (Hrvatska)
Potential Candidate Countries
.al - Albania
.ba - Bosnia and Herzegovina
.mk - The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
.cs - Serbia and Montenegro
?? - Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244

Applicable to all registrations by all countries is the following provision regarding the country codes:

"Alpha-2 codes representing countries shall not be used to register domain names directly under the .eu TLD."

There is no question that the introduction of the .eu top level domain will diminish the importance of the European country codes in the long term, although the short-term impact may be less pronounced, because many of the country coded websites are tied to language differences. However, multilingual sites now resident at the country-coded pages will most certainly ultimately migrate to the .eu domain, leaving the country-code pages in only the language of origin of the website. A good example here would be the many travel sites. Someone looking for city information in English concerning a European city will almost certainly gravitate toward .eu domains rather than to the country-code websites. One country that is bound to suffer under this system in the long term is Switzerland, which is neither an EU Member State nor a member of EEA, nor is it an EU candidate. (Switzerland [Confoederatio Helvetica, whence the "ch"] has .ch as its ccTLD).

Robertson states clearly that the main reason to register .eu domains now is to save money and avoid trouble down the road.

Organizations which do not get .eu domains now may find that someone else will take the respective .eu domain names. Later, this may involve legal squabbles and arbitration, events which are guaranteed to be extremely expensive.

It would thus seem to be much simpler and cheaper to just register the appropriate .eu domains.

As written by the EU Commission:

"How much will it cost?
The basic fee for the registration of a domain name during the first year will be of €10. However, applications have to be filed through registrars that will add their own costs to that fee. Different registrars may offer different services. Prices thus vary."


This assumes of course that one is entitled to register an .eu domain in the first place, which is explained here. Essentially, if your organization does not have a business in the European Union, then you are not entitled to register an .eu domain unless you are an EU resident.

Some useful Links are:
The EU Regulations for the .eu top level domain
and also Public Policy Rules (PPR) for .eu

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

HyperThinker Workshop on Disruptive Innovators - Today in Brussels

If you are in the Brussels area and have the time, ZN.be (Zeitgest Net) has a workshop from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (16:00-19:00) today, November 24, 2005 titled the "Mental Toolkit for Disruptive Innovators". Location @ ING, Avenue Marnix 24, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.

The workshop intends that the participants:

  • Be exposed to beyond the box approaches which inspire
  • Receive practical tools to affect innovational change which motivates
  • See how the experts have applied HyperThinking with results – case studies – which provides context
  • Experience the confidence hands-on exercise provides to put theory into practice during the workshop – which energizes action

Although apparently intended only for business people, this looks like the kind of workshop that decisionmakers from all quarters could profit by.

Happy Thanksgiving!

.eu domain registrations start December 7, 2005

If your company or organization does business in Europe, this may be important.

The launch dates for the newly established European .eu top level domain pursuant to European Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 have been announced by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names. FAQs are available in English (en), German (de), Spanish (es), French (fr) and Italian (it).

Who is eligible for an .eu domain?

Eligible for an .eu domain according to Article 4(2)(b) EC Regulation 733/2002 is any:
"(i) undertaking having its registered office, central administration
or principal place of business within the
[European] Community, or
(ii) organisation established within the [European] Community
without prejudice to the application of national law, or
(iii) natural person resident within the [European] Community...."


This announcement is especially important for established persons, companies or organizations who already have "prior rights" to certain names and want to take advantage of early .eu domain registration in the Phase I and II Sunrise periods, as explained below.

Prior rights entitle early .eu domain registration.

THE PRIOR "SUNRISE-ENTITLED" RIGHTS ARE:

1. trade marks registered in the EU (e.g. Coca-Cola, Sony, Windows, ThinkPad, iPod, Pentium, Ferrari, etc.) Here is an IBM "Legal Information for the ThinkPad" to show some trademark coverage, just in connection with the ThinkPad:
"IBM, the IBM logo, EasyServ, HelpCenter, OS/2, ServicePac, ThinkLight, ThinkPad, ThinkPad Proven, the ThinkPad Proven logo, TrackPoint, Ultrabay, UM Services, Update Connector, WorkPad and the WorkPad Proven logo are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the US and other countries. Bluetooth is a trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and licensed to IBM. Intel and Pentium are registered trademarks and SpeedStep is a trademark of Intel Corporation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Lotus and SmartSuite are registered trademarks of Lotus Development Corporation. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT and the Microsoft logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others."

2. geographical indications or designations of origin in the EU (e.g. Champagne, Roquefort cheese)

3. unregistered trademarks used in the EU (e.g. LawPundit, EUPundit)

4. trade names in the EU (e.g. "John Doe's Printing Company" [non-existent at Google 23/11/2005], "your company name")

5. business identifiers in the EU (e.g. Ronald McDonald (McDonald's), Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck (Walt Disney Company); WIPO writes on business identifiers:
"Business identifiers” are signs which identify businesses as such, and not the products or services offered by the business, the latter feature constituting a pure trademark function. Signs that may constitute business identifiers are, for example, trade names, business symbols, emblems or logos. Some confusion as regards the functions of marks and business identifiers stems from the fact that, sometimes, the name of a company, i.e., its business identifier, is identical with one of the company’s trademarks."

6. company names in the EU (General Motors, General Electric, Microsoft Corporation, Intel, IBM, Google, Yahoo, etc.)

7. distinctive titles of protected literary or artistic works in the EU (e.g. the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, Star Wars, Indiana Jones)

It is absolutely NOT POSSIBLE to get pre-validation advice about a domain name from the registration validation company (PWC, see below) so do not waste your or anyone else's time trying to get such advice from them. Rather, for Phases I and II below, one must FIRST submit a domain registration claiming the "prior right" to a name together with the documentation required and then let the validation process take its course. See in this regard the EURid pages linked below as well as the Public Policy Rules in EC Regulation 874/2004.

The .EU domain registrations will proceed in three phases:

SUNRISE PERIOD - PHASE I - starts December 7, 2005
SUNRISE PERIOD - PHASE II - starts February 7, 2006
LAND RUSH PERIOD - starts April 7, 2006 - .EU domain registration is open to everyone

Registrations in Phases I and II are for persons or organizations which claim a prior right to a name (e.g. trademarks (trade marks), company names, etc.). Registration during Phases I and II will require documentation of any claim made and that documentation validation will be carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

When can one register an .eu domain? (see detailed instruction here on Launch):

Phase of Registration is Dependent on the Type of Prior Right Which Can be Documented

Phase 1 & 2 - Registered National and Community Trade Marks
Phase 1& 2 - Geographical Indications or Designations of Origin
Phase 2 - Unregistered Trade Marks
Phase 2 - Trade Names
Phase 2 - Business identifiers
Phase 2 - Company Names
Phase 2 - Distinctive Titles of Protected Literary and Artistic Works
Land Rush - Everybody else can register a domain

In the event of conflict between two or more registrants who have legitimate "prior right" claims to a name (Omega Watches and Omega Engineering, Inc. e. g. could in our view both claim the omega.eu domain), the domains will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that EURid is the REGISTRY for .eu domain names but they do NOT do the registering of domains. This is done only by ACCREDITED REGISTRARS, a list of which is HERE.

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Crossposted to Law Pundit.
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

EU Parliament - Political Groups

The lack of knowledge in Europe and elsewhere about the European Union is immense. Let's take a sample question. Can you name offhand the political groupings in the EU Parliament? Hardly anyone can. There are seven (eight if you count the independents):

Political groups in the list below are based on the European Parliament list of MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] by Member State and political group in the sixth parliamentary term:

1. EPP-ED - Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats
(266 members)
These are the conservatives. This is the center-right (centre-right) party. We might compare this group to the Republicans in the USA or the Conservatives in the UK (the Tories) or the CDU/CSU in Germany.

2. PES - Socialist Group in the European Parliament
(201 members)
These are the social democrats. This is the center-left (centre-left) party. This group includes representatives from the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Labour Party in the UK, who define themselves as "democratic socialists". We might compare them to the Democratic Party in the USA.

3. ALDE - Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
(89 members)
In Germany, the liberals (FDP) are the group between the right and the left. This group corresponds to the Liberal Democratic Party in the UK.

4. Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
(42 members)
These are the environmentalists.

5. Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
(41 members)
This group includes the Communists and the German "Linkspartei" PDS (successor to the former East German political party SED), recently renamed "die Linkspartei" (Left Party).

6. Independence/Democracy Group
(36 members)
This group consists of members who are eurosceptics. They hope to reject the EU Constitution and they oppose all forms of centralization, some even supporting their country's withdrawal from the EU.

7. UEN - Union for Europe of the Nations Group
(27 members)
This is a group which opposes strong federalism in the EU.

8. Non-Attached Members (29 members)

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Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Monday, November 07, 2005

EU Agricultural Subsidies [CAP] Under Fire

In view of the WTO Doha round of global trade talks and the significant role of European Union (EU) agricultural subsidies [CAP] in those talks, especially the large and controversial subsidies to France, the question must be asked:

Who actually gets the greatly disputed EU farm subsidies which make up ca. 40% of the EU budget?

A November 7, 2005 press release from the NGO Oxfam reports that agricultural subsidies in the European Union show tremendous inequalities of distribution (as already shown for the UK previously, see here and here) . The more land that is owned, the more subsidies the owner is entitled to obtain. The result is that the rich, the biggest farms and large multinational corporations who own large tracts of farmland are the biggest recipients of EU agricultural subsidies. We excerpt the 7 November 2005 Oxfam press release below which was titled "Lid comes off French farm subsidies":

"Europe must face up to the need to reform its Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] following new revelations of inequality from another of its member states this week, said international agency Oxfam today.

French newspaper La Tribune has published figures that show the biggest French farming businesses swallow up the vast majority of its EU agricultural subsidies....

The revelations come as EU Foreign Ministers meet today (Nov 7) in Brussels to discuss the EU budget and trade negotiators from the EU, US, India and Brazil meet in London to try to unblock WTO negotiations.

CAP reform will be on top of the agenda in Brussels....,” said Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign.

France is leading an aggressive defense of the CAP at the WTO. France gets around 9.4 billion Euros from the 44 billion Euro CAP budget....


The CAP is a gravy train for Europe’s biggest, richest farmers,” she said....“

Oxfam has been instrumental in helping to expose the huge inequalities in farm spending that exist in the UK, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia and now France....

Crossposted to LawPundit.
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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Europa Newsletter of the European Commission Issue 68, November 4, 2005

The Europa Newsletter is issued every two weeks by the European Commission and can be subscribed to here.

The latest issue of the Europa Newsletter, Issue 68, 4 November 2005, reports that:

"On 25 October the European Commission presented a three-year programme to simplify thousands of pages of EU legislation adopted since 1957.....

The Commission proposes to repeal, codify, recast or modify 222 basic legislations – all in all more than 1400 legal acts – in the next three years".

Günter Verheugen, Commission Vice-President, is quoted as saying that this is not deregulation but rather "better regulation".
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Biometric Passports in the USA and the EU - Germany Leads the Way

Biometric Passports in the EU

As reported at the EU Observer, Germany has become the first of the EU Member States to comply with US requirements which mandate biometric passports (or plans for such) from visa waiver program (VWP) countries as of the end of October, 2005. The rules are:

"According to recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security press briefings and documents, the requirements for travelers wanting to enter the United States without a visa under the VWP are as follows:

- June 26 [2005]: Travelers from VWP countries must present passports that are machine-readable for visa-free entry into the United States.
- October 26 [2005]: Travelers from VWP countries with passports issued on or after this date must present passports with a digital photograph; VWP countries are required to produce passports with digital photographs and present an “acceptable plan” to issue passports with integrated circuit chips, or e-passports within one year.
- October 26, 2006: Travelers from VWP countries with a passport issued on or after this date must present a passport with an integrated circuit chip, also known as e-passport, capable of storing biographic information from the passport’s data page, a digitized photograph and other biometric information.


The three requirements stem from legislation passed in 2002 by the U.S. Congress. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (a U.S. law also known as the Border Security Act) originally required that the government of each VWP country certify it had a program to produce tamper-resistant, machine-readable passports that incorporate a biometric identifier that complies with International Civil Aviation Organization standards by October 26, 2004. In mid-2004, Congress extended the deadline one year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in recent months, has clarified requirements for continued participation in the VWP. "


Citizens of countries which do not implement the new biometric passports by October 26, 2006 will lose their visa waiver privileges and have to apply for a visa.

See the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern, BMI) for information in German about the new German electronic biometric passport, the ePass.

The German ePass [electronic Passport] is being issued pursuant to the European Union (EU)
COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States

(and see also here) .

Netzpolitik.org refers to a German government hotline for citizens with questions about the new ePass. The information is also found at the BMI:

"Im Oktober werden die Passbehörden mit Plakaten und Flyern zur Information der Bürgerinnen und Bürger ausgestattet. Das BSI bietet bereits seit dem 1. Juni 2005 einen Bürger-Service zu technischen Fragen zum ePass an über die E-Mail-Adresse ePass@bsi.bund.de sowie eine ePass-Hotline. Die Hotline ist von 8 bis 17 Uhr unter der Nummer 01805-274 300 erreichbar (12 ct/min)."

As reported by EU Observer:

"The updated German passport comes with a concealed radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that stores personal information such as name and date of birth, as well as a digital facial image of the holder."

As shown by this biometric passport, modern Germany has many faults and problems, but this land of engineers and scientists is still ahead of most countries in the Western world when it comes to putting certain aspects of modern technology and science into action.

U.S. Electronic Passports

The February 18, 2005 US proposed rule for its own electronic passports had already been issued as a final rule in part, excepting the electronic passport sections, which were just now finalized in the final rule issued by the US State Department on October 25, 2005. See Tech Law Prof Blog and also The U.S. Electronic Passport.

The Final Rule provides:

"The Department intends to begin the electronic passport program in December 2005. The first stage will be a pilot program in which the electronic passports will be issued to U.S. Government employees who use Official or Diplomatic passports for government travel. This pilot program will permit a limited number of passports to be issued and field tested prior to the first issuance to the American traveling public, slated for early 2006. By October 2006, all U.S. passports, with the exception of a small number of emergency passports issued by U.S. embassies or consulates, will be electronic passports."

The RFID chip to be used for passports should not be confused by privacy advocates with RFID chips used to mark products for inventory or sale:

"The ICAO specification for use of contactless chip technology requires a minimum capacity of 32 kilobytes (KB). The U.S. has decided to use a 64KB chip to permit adequate storage room in case additional data, or biometric indicators such as fingerprints or iris scans, are included in the future. Before modifying the definition of "electronic passport" to add a new or additional biometric identifier other than a digitized photograph, we will seek public comment through a new rule making process.

The contactless smart chip that is being used in the electronic passport is a "passive chip" that derives its power from the reader that communicates with it. It cannot broadcast personal information because it does not have its own source of power. Readers that are on the open market, designed to read Type A or Type B contactless chips complying with International Standards Organization (ISO) 14443 and ISO 7816 specifications, will be able to communicate with the chip. This is necessary to permit nations to procure readers from a variety of vendors, facilitate global interoperability and ensure that the electronic passports are readable at all ports of entry.

The proximity chip technology utilized in the electronic passport is designed to be read with chip readers at ports of entry only when the document is placed within inches of such readers. It uses RFID technology. The ISO 14443 RFID specification permits chips to be read when the electronic passport is placed within approximately ten centimeters of the reader. The reader provides the power to the chip and then an electronic communication between the chip and reader occurs via a transmission of radio waves. The technology is not the same as the vicinity chip RFID technology used for inventory tracking of items from distances at retail stores and warehouses. It will not permit "tracking" of individuals. It will only permit governmental authorities to know that an individual has arrived at a port of entry--which governmental authorities already know from presentation of non-electronic passports--with greater assurance that the person who presents the passport is the legitimate holder of the passport.

The personal information that will be contained in the chip is the information on the data page of the passport--the name, nationality, sex, date of birth, place of birth, and digitized photograph of the passport holder. The chip will also contain information about the passport itself--the passport number, issue date, expiration date, and type of passport. Finally, the chip will contain coding to prevent any digital data from being altered or removed as well as the chip's unique ID number. This coding will be in the form of a high strength digital signature. The contents of the data page of the traditional passport have been established by international usage and by ICAO. The chip will not contain home addresses, social security numbers, or other information that might facilitate identity theft."

For blog postings on this and related topics see:

Tech Law Prof Blog on the US Final Rule on Electronic Passports
Freedom to Tinker on RFID
neuer-reisepass.de on the new ePass (in German)
PrawfsBlawg on RFID Tags
eLegal Canton on "Bring on the Biometrics"
Surpriv on RFID
NearWalden on RFID Privacy Cases with a link to the EFF
Bruce Schneier on Security with an article that appeared on the IHT
Ryan Singel at Wired News and "American Passports to Get Chipped" suggesting that privacy concerns are overblown.

Crossposted to LawPundit.

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