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Smart cards for secure electronic access

The use of smart cards for secure electronic access was planted firmly on the political agenda as EU leaders vowed to ensure the adoption of harmonised smart-card based security and authentication systems for all electronic transactions in Europe.

A high-level task force was ...
The use of smart cards for secure electronic access was planted firmly on the political agenda as EU leaders vowed to ensure the adoption of harmonised smart-card based security and authentication systems for all electronic transactions in Europe.

A high-level task force was established to oversee and initiate developments at the Smart card summit, held on 11 April in Lisbon, as part of the ministerial conference on knowledge and information society.

Smart cards ensure secure electronic access to services and are an important factor in securing the confidence of EU citizens in electronic commerce.

Their strategic importance is such that the European Commission has included a specific action to promoting them in the eEurope initiative designed to promote the uptake of digital technologies.

The widespread use of smart cards - which took off with the arrival of GSM (global system for mobile communication) - is considered a European strength, but further effort is needed to harmonise approaches across Europe and worldwide, concluded participants.

'Our key objective is that users should be able to use their smart card, or cards, across the Union, in different context, in a user-friendly manner and with an unprecedented quality of service,' said Robert Verrue, Director General of the Information Society Directorate-General.

'The questions of security, user confidence and protection of personal data are the essential pillars of a multisectoral infrastructure. Today we will begin to construct these pillars on a strong base.'

Participants agreed to work through a high-level taskforce aimed at initiating and supporting common developments in smart-card based systems.

Within this framework, working groups will be set up to prepare a roadmap for easily usable smart card based systems by the end of 2001, and an efficient smart-card based security and authentication system for European electronic transactions by the end of 2002. A secure electronic infrastructure for public access to government services and for public procurement should be in place by 2003.

Mr Verrue called upon the representatives from public and private industries and user groups present at the summit to support the smart card action.

Member States were invited to act quickly to ensure a consistent licensing and regulatory framework for electronic signature recognition and for secure electronic payments - areas where smart card technology will play an important role.

Source: Portuguese Council Presidency

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