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This research addresses the social aspects associated with sharing data, especially personal information, in respect of plans for interoperable European electronic ID systems. The paper reports on a survey which was designed to investigate EU citizens’ perceptions and attitudes towards issues involved in making eIDs interoperable. The construction of the survey drew from an underlying conceptual framework of institutional trust.  


A web-based survey was translated into 8 European languages and was made available online over a period of one month in June 2006. Overall there were 1,906 valid responses to the survey with respondents from 23 out of the 25 EU countries. A limitation of the survey was, however, that the response rate from some countries was very low. In this respect, the survey cannot be said to be fully representative of all European citizens.  


Findings arising from the analysis of the survey point to an overall negative perception of the ID authorities by EU citizens. The vast majority of the respondents do not trust the relevant institutions; they are seriously critical about the competence of the authorities, and are dubious about their ability to handle personal data with appropriate care. Moreover, they are suspicious of the authorities misusing their identity data. These negative attitudes of citizens hold important implications for any future attempts at implementing eID cards, as these perceptions may well be translated into subsequent behaviours, namely, resistance to use or, indeed, non-use.  The most negative attitudes were found in respondents from the UK and Ireland, and the least negative in Central and Eastern Europe.



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