Thursday, February 17, 2005

Smart ID Cards - What is behind ?

One recent Signs of the Times page covered the situation with the National ID Cards implementation in USA and UK. I decided to check myself what is the situation worldwide.

First I saw that the Industry response was almost immediate. In a Smart Card Alliance website I found a telling news article. To quote some excerpts:

... Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) and chip-enabled U.S. passports headline the agenda at the Smart Card Alliance 4th Annual Smart Cards in eGovernment Conference and Exhibition on March 9th through 11th, 2005 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference brings government and industry leaders together in an interactive, educational forum to discuss and debate the important business and technical issues involving government adoption of smart cards.

The conference will cover HSPD-12 and FIPS 201 in-depth, providing attendees with critical information that will help them deploy smart cards on the accelerated timeline that HSPD-12 requires. Government adoption of smart card technology is impacting identity management and security far beyond Washington, D.C. and is affecting the entire market," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.

... Conference sponsors and exhibitors include Axalto, Oberthur, HID, Gemplus, SuperCom, Atmel and Giesecke & Devrient, all of whom play key roles in top U.S. government projects, such as the Transportation Worker Identity Credential, the Common Access Card, ePassport and the Registered Traveler program.

Next I found one old, but interesting Gartner Analysis. Well, let us see what is the situation in Europe (OK - year 2002 is rather old to depict the situation, but anyway):

After several years of discussion, trials and actual deployment, of the nine European Union (EU) countries where a single number exists that identifies a citizen, only one (Finland) uses a smart ID card on a relatively large scale. Plans for future use exist in three other countries (Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium), but only a few small trials have been carried out.

Probably you have to check something more recent. Wow, how many and different smart card applications - not all ID, but... Who knows what exactly carries the transportation or Health Care Card ?

As I usually do, I decided to check the leading Smart Card producers. Gemplus has a wide ID & Security program. There we see applications as Nationwide ID and E-Passport. If you check Gemplus references, you can see that this growing issue is not something in the future, but rather something real. Oberthur offers similar product, which is capable of storing biometric data. References range from Africa to USA. Giesecke & Devrient concur others with its own Government program. Again we see Chip Passports, National ID, Driving Licenses, and more, and more...

Are there a Balkan signs in this interesting picture? Unfortunately, yes. Bosnia and Herzegovina already pioneers biometric ID cards, Slovenia and Romania have soon to be implemented e-strategy, Bulgaria is in a hurry catching up with a new e-ID Card and E-Passport announce.

Eeeh, the countries from the New Europe are really novel and progressive one. Are they?

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