Identification numbers as pseudonyms in the EU public sector
In recent years the use of pseudonyms as false identities over one’s actual birth name has increased rapidly. The main driver behind this growth is the Internet, where virtually every user employs at least one pseudonym. Also public legal entities have resorted to issuing pseudonyms – mostly in the guise of identification numbers – to their subjects. Contrary to the historical use of pseudonyms as a means for concealing one’s identity, such public sector issued pseudonyms are rather used for unique and trustworthy identification. The use of pseudonyms can, however, entail a number of risks, specifically concerning the protection of the privacy of the citizen regarding data exchange and data linking. In this article, the national identity schemes of selected EU Member States will be analysed to assess how pseudonyms are introduced as means for public sector identification and what the practical impact is of the purported privacy concerns.