Bulgarians May Have E-Identification in 2020

Bulgarians are used to hearing vain promises that "next year" will be the year when e-government function will be integrated into the new series of IDs and passports. What does "next year" mean, you ask? Well, these promises have been going on for a couple of years now so it's no wonder that they may once again turn out to be false. 

The first new electronic IDs and passports were supposed to come out in 2017.

One year earlier, a public procurement was announced for the "creation, support, and exploitation of a centralized system for personalization of Bulgarian personal documents". The procurement was supposed to cost 500 million BGN. However, this procurement was later cancelled and the government announced that a state-run company registered with the Ministry of Finance was going to execute the project. 

There was one more reason for the government to postpone the procedure.

The chief of the parliamentary group of GERB - Tsvetan Tsvetanov, insisted that some of the text of the Law for electronic identification was contradictory to the Law for personal identification and that had to be changed for the procedure to go on. The controversial text concerned the integration of microchips in the IDs. This made it necessary for the new IDs to come out in 2018. Meanwhile, new changes to the Law were made and a new date was set - for 2019

Identification is key to the (few) e-services that the government offers.

If electronic identification is made possible, clerks will be able to know who they are working with without requiring physical presence. Currently, electronic identification is possible only through electronic signature, however, making and renewing one costs a lot of time and money. The idea is for people to be able to legitimize themselves online only by using their ID cards. 

Although unknown when they should first be released, designs for the new passports and ID-cards are already being discussed. Citizens will be able to choose one of two types of passports - valid for either five or ten years. The five-year passports will have 32 pages while the others will have 48. ID-cards for citizens between 18 and 58 will be valid for 10 years after that citizens receive a card without that doesn't expire. The passports are going to have a picture of the National Theater and ID-cards are supposed to have a picture of the rosetta of Pliska or a painting of the famous painter Vladimir Dimitrov - the Master. ID cards will have a microchip with the biometric data of its carrier, however, citizens will be able to opt out of it. 

A major problem would be the wireless technology.

While wireless microchips will be scannable by phone and tablet, people would have to give somewhere between €80-90 for a wireless ID-scanner to legitimize themselves through their computers. Thus the authorities believe that a card should be equipped with both a wireless chip and a chip for physical contact. 

Although it may seem that Bulgaria is taking its e-government seriously, statistics prove otherwise. Bulgaria has been irrational in investing in and managing its e-services. 



Vasil Manev

Vasil Manev is a student in Computer Science and an aspiring columnist, studying in Heidelberg, Germany.

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