Belgium is the first country in the world to effectively deploy an electronic identity card (eID) at full scale. Presently more than 2.5 million Belgian citizens already have one and by 2009 every Belgian citizen will have his own. As a critical mass is now being reached, a number of enabling applications are showing up: the eID is of course a major piece for the development of the e-government but it will also contribute to make the "wild" WWW safer through secured chats (for teenagers, seniors,...), access to public facilities (eg. recycling park, public library,...), standard ways to exchange legally binding signed document between contractors, etc.
Explaining hot topic of the Internet to the mass is exactly the eWish mission and the last conference organized on April 27 in Mons was precisely about the eID.
A number of very complementary presentations gave a full overview of what the eID is, how to use it and what could be expected from it:
- Federal Public Service explained what is the function of eID at physical and digital level, how it is being deployed and gave a number of applications.
- CETIC gave practical demonstrations of existing applications, such as the access to the national register and electronic dispenser to order official documents. A number of potential applications were also discussed in a critical way.
- Zetes - the manufacturer of the eID - went through the different types of card readers and explained the eID itself as an e-card: its pattern, its contents and how it is produced.
- Certipost - the issuer of the certificates on the eID - gave further explanation about the authentication and digital signatures features. They also presented a product enabling encryption (a feature which is not part of the eID).
- Public Service of Justice gave an overview of the eID application in his field.
An interactive questions/answers exchange lead to determine practical applications, such as how to configure readers, how to use the eID in an international context,... The closing cocktail enabled the conversations to go on.
As expert in IT security and software quality, CETIC involvement in eID is to help in the design and development of innovative applications, especially for e-government at a municipal level. This expertise is currently being deployed with a number of towns within an Interoperability project at the level of the Walloon Region and with CommunesPlone.