An Introduction to the National Smart Card
The national organization for civil registration as the main reference of identity affairs is planning to replace current ID cards with smart national cards. In addition to the applications available on the previous national ID cards, these smart cards are the key to electronic government and an entrance to the information community, which provide individuals with opportunity to enter the digital space through a safe way.
The smart national card is an introduction to the entry of information community, which could fairly distribute opportunities, and reduce some costs imposed on the people, the government and businesses. This could have a great role in the economic dynamism of the country.
With the implementation of the smart national card, services could reach people in an easier, faster and more qualified way. This could upgrade the quality of life of people and increase their satisfaction from the government.
Many countries have already started designing or implementing this project. Almost all Persian Gulf countries and most far eastern countries have started the smart national card project. In Asia countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong have been the pioneers of this project and all have smart national cards and use them to offer better services. Different countries take different advantages from this card according to their needs and the resources available, but a common point in most cases is the digital identification and confirmation of identity.
Like all other identification cards, the first responsibility of the smart national card is identification. To do so when the person registers his or her information, it is put on the card. This information includes the name, family name, date and place of birth of the person. Therefore, whenever the person needs his or her identification information he could use smart national card and be identified digitally. Electronic identification is less prone to extortion in identification.
The main application of the smart national card is identity confirmation. In traditional cards, the identity confirmation is done through the photo adhered to the card and the especial seal on the card. The smart national card follows the same procedure, but the identity confirmation is not limited to the photo. In addition to the photo, biometric data of the owner (fingerprint) is also available on the card. Most importantly, the biometric data is digitally available for investigation. In other words in a center equipped with a finger print censor, after putting his card in the card reader the owner of the card has to put his finger on the finger print censor, then the system investigates to see if the finger print of the person holding the card matches that of the one electronically saved in the card. If the two fingerprints match, the person is able to continue with the operation. This way the possibility of impersonation is reduced.
Another important feature of the smart national card is the electronic signature. The owner of the card will be able to sign electronic documents in the digital space. In its application, the electronic signature is the same as the traditional signature; but in the digital space, the receiver of a letter or a document can be sure that what he has received is not a counterfeit. Also signing of a letter or a document carries a legal load for the person signing it so that the person cannot deny it later.
The smart national card provides the sender and the receiver of a document with the opportunity of confirming the accuracy of the signature. The idea behind the digital signature is very simple: the document is summarized digitally and is turned into a package. The card codes this package and the resulting package is named the digital signature, which appears at the end of the document. This text is sent to the receiver with this digital signature at its end. On the receiver side the document is summarized through the same procedure and the digital signature is deciphered by the receiver’s card and this package is compared with the summarized package and if the two match this means that the person who’s claimed to sign the package has really done so.
The smart national card is applicable in the goal-oriented distribution of subsidies, electronic health, elections, and other public services.
The smart national card can be used as a multifunctional device with the three offers it has: identification, identity confirmation, and digital signature. The smart national card has provided an opportunity for all these functions to appear on one card. These functions can be applied on the card before or after its issuance. Each card can only reach its own information. It looks as if each set of information is put in a separate box with an exclusive key to it. The smart national card is similar to a small computer whose information can be used when connected to a card reader.
Another function of the card is the availability of biometric information on the card. The photo and fingerprint of the owner of the card is electronically saved on the card. Therefore the security of the card is increased to a considerable level. It won’t be possible for anyone to enter the password of the card and misuse its information. To use the card the owner must be present so that his fingerprint is compared with the one saved on the card. The information in the card is kept coded so to prevent illegal usage of it. Actually, one of the major benefits of the smart national card compared to the current paper card is its high visual and digital security. Among the most important benefits of the card is its ability to identify in the digital field, to confirm identities according to the password, and to codify biometrically so that all the parties that is the card, the owner of the card, and the application, can dually confirm each other. The digital signature, information processing, changing the information after the issuance of the card, supporting different functions, adding of other functions after the issuance, and reaching information when needed all in a highly secure space are among the many functions and benefits of the smart national card. Therefore, one can keep highly confidential information on the card with a very high certainty factor.