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Abstract  Foreword
 Conceptual Framework and Construction of Survey




This paper reports on a survey study that examined citizen’s trust in the institutions responsible for Identity Management Systems to exchange data across government departments, between governments and commerce and between different European countries.  


The survey forms part of a research effort to deepen understanding of the social and cultural questions associated with interoperable ID systems. Whilst many of the EU projects in the interoperability domain tend to privilege the engineering and legal perspectives for harmonising and interoperating identity management systems, the place of the citizen’s feelings and perceptions has not been sufficiently considered. This study represents a step in this direction. 


The conceptual basis upon which the survey was developed draws from the concept of institution-based trust and in the findings from the interviews of experts in a previous report (Backhouse, 2005). The constructs for assessing trust in the survey relate to user’s perceptions of the institutional environment surrounding the issuance and management of an EU-wide eID card scheme. 


A web-based survey was translated into 8 European languages and was made available online for a period of one month in June 2006. Respondents of the survey were asked to rate their agreement with a set of 32 statements using a scale from 1 (=strongly agree) to 7 (=strongly disagree). Overall there were 2,918 respondents to the survey, however, the number of respondents used in the analysis was reduced to N=1,906 after omitting invalid responses. Respondents came from 23 out of the 25 EU countries. 


The paper is organised as follows. The next section provides a brief background to the survey. We outline ID schemes in the different EU countries, highlighting the current diversification. We conclude by re-stating the objective of the survey, arising as it does from the EU desire to facilitate a high level of interconnection and use of new identity management technologies. The next part of the paper (2) focuses on the conceptual foundation of the survey. The notion of institutional trust and the constituents that served to guide the construction of the survey are introduced. This is followed by a section on Method (3), describing the survey itself, providing information about the structure and questions, and how the survey was delivered and promoted. Then, in section 4, key findings from the survey are presented. Finally, section 5 concludes the paper with an assessment of some limitations of the survey conducted, and a review of the implications and lessons for the European Community.  




In 1919, in the aftermath of World War I, Belgium became the first European country to have identity cards. Today, 21 out of the present 25 EU countries have some form of ID card scheme , which are paper-based systems.  The four countries currently with no ID cards are the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Latvia. Of the 21 countries with ID cards, 10 have voluntary schemes; however, the degree to which they are actually voluntary varies.  For example, although people residing in France are not technically required to hold an ID card, it is virtually impossible to get by without one as they are connected to important administrative systems, such as state benefits (Beck and Broadhurst 1995).


ID card schemes in the EU vary along other dimensions, such as powers given to authorities demanding to see them and in their functionality.  In Germany and Belgium, failure to provide an ID card can lead to a short period in jail while a person’s identity is determined, whereas in Austria and Sweden there is no obligation to carry the cards.  While the right to demand to see an ID card is reserved to government officials in most countries, in Luxembourg, Italy and Portugal, other officials, such as bank and post office workers, also have this right .  


As for functionality, most ID cards only hold basic information such as name, address and a numerical identifier and are not linked to a central database.  The UK Home Office in 2004 caused uproar by proposing an “entitlement card” holding highly personal information such as biometric data and health care records, with the possibility of adding other items such as bank details.  The UK plans for the entitlement card have now been scaled back to include only basic personal and biometric data, and the government is moving away from hosting the only ID card scheme that includes a central database.


Though this report focuses on a single, EU-wide eID card scheme, it is important to realise the implications of the variety of European ID cards schemes in implementing an interoperable system.  Citizens of states where ID cards are already established are likely to be more ready to accept an EU-wide eID card than states such as the UK.  The rights and functionality associated with ID cards in a person’s home state will also have a bearing on their opinion toward such a scheme.  


Presently, the EC has stayed away from the issue of interoperable eIDs owing to these varying national and privacy issues.  However, it has a desire to integrate public administration and health systems to support the mobility of EU citizens .  As in the UK, eID projects from the EC plan for a high level of interconnection and use of new technology.




In light of this trend, the survey conducted was designed to examine citizen’s trust in the institutions responsible for Identity Management Systems to exchange data in an appropriate manner across government departments, between governments and commerce and across European countries. In contrast to many of the EC projects in the interoperability domain which tend to privilege the engineering and legal perspectives for harmonising and interoperating identity management systems, the focus in the present study is placed instead on the citizen’s attitudes and perceptions, issues that have not as yet been sufficiently considered.  



Abstract  fidis-wp4-del4.5.a_survey_on_EU_citizens_trust_04.sxw  Conceptual Framework and Construction of Survey
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