Germanys Cabinet has announced its new 'eCard' (PDF German) strategy that essentially will render the 'GesundheitsCard' (HealthCard) into a universal ID solution. Health insurance is mandatory in Germany and basically every citizen already holds a Chipcard containg data about is insurance status. The GesundheitsCard is planned to become the succesor of the current Chipcard but with a much broader scope. The most important new features are the inclusion of a government approved Digital Signature and of an personal insurance number similar to the Social Security Number in the USA.
Prospectivly being issued from 2006 on to all 80 million Germans the Gesundheitscard will be a key element for the planned eHealth regime. It is its pervasiveness that is expected to make the Digital Signature of the GesundheitsCard an ideal canidate to serve as a general authentication-media for E-Commerce and E-Government. Furthermore the technical framework of this Card will be made interchangeable with the next generation of the 'Personalausweis'; the Citizen ID Card that evey German has to carry. The next 'Personalausweis' will also include a Digital Signature alongside the biometric dataset obligatory for identification at international borders.