New SA ID cards go high-tech

Gemalto, a Netherlands-based digital security company, recently announced in a press statement that it will be the company supplying the South African Government Printing Works (GPW) with its Sealys eID proximity cards for our national ID card roll-out.

“GPW selected the high-end Sealys document fitted with the contactless feature, ensuring added levels of convenience with unrivalled security for citizens,” Gemalto said.

Pierre-Luc Arnaud, marketing director for government programmes in Africa at Gemalto, explained that the eID cards coming to South Africa are compliant with the ISO/EIC 14443 contactless standard.

This same standard is used for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa contactless banking cards or electronic passports, Arnaud said. It also features in Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.

To comply with top-end security and privacy considerations, Arnaud said that South Africa’s eID cards will be configured to operate in very close proximity to a reader (less than 2–4 inches).

Pierre Luc Arnaud Gemalto
Pierre Luc Arnaud Gemalto

SA eID data is encrypted

Asked what type of contactless reader would be needed to make use of the proximity card feature of our new eID, Arnaud said that any reader compatible with the international standard could be used.

He added that the data on the card is protected with strong encryption and public key infrastructure (PKI) so that “only the rightful authorities or organisations can have access to the information stored on the card.”

This characteristic is also very important to respect the privacy of the citizen, Arnaud said.

“Thanks to its microprocessor and embedded software, the eID card is able to serve three distinct functions: identification, authentication and signature, using cryptography,” Arnaud said.

According to the Gemalto website, their Sealy’s eID cards implement all the major security algorithms.

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New SA ID cards go high-tech