Belgium Reinforces Child Protection With National eID Program

Gemalto recently announced it is rolling out its eID solution as part of the Belgian government program to expand its national eID initiative.

The program consists of a dedicated eID card for children aged under 12 with specific features intended to increase their security in emergency situations. In particular, a special hotline number is printed on the card body of the child’s ID card so that his parents can be alerted as soon as possible.

Gemalto will deliver the highly secure microprocessor cards to Zetes, the European Auto-ID solutions provider. Fedict (FPS Information and Communication Technology), the Federal Public Service of Belgium in charge of developing e-Government projects, has just started deploying the Kids-ID program.

The size of a credit card, the new Kids-ID card features three main functionalities. Firstly, it acts as an electronic national ID credential for Belgian children and also serves as an official travel document in most European countries. It contains all necessary ID information as well as the child’s photograph. These data are printed on the card body and also securely stored in the microprocessor.

The second capability is protecting the child in emergency situations. In case they get lost, or is the victim of an accident, a hotline number is printed on the card body to notify the next of kin or emergency contact.

The caller dials the hotline number and enters the child’s 11-digit National Registry number. The call is immediately transferred to the first number on a list of up to seven contact phone numbers that the parents have selected upon card issuance. If this person is not available, the caller is immediately connected to the second number on the list, and so on until somebody is reached. If all numbers are exhausted, the call is routed to the 24 hours-a-day Belgian Child Focus hotline.

Lastly, the Kids-ID card can be used on the Internet for safer access to online chat sites and for use of services that require identification. A built-in PIN code automatically authenticates the child and grants then access to Web services he is allowed to use. Other potential uses include accessing library books, sports club memberships or healthcare services.

“Enhancing child protection both in the real world and the digital world is a universal concern,” said Jacques Seneca, executive vice president of the Security Business Unit at Gemalto. “We are proud to bring our digital security expertise to this highly innovative project initiated by Belgium.”

Kids-ID is part of Belgium’s nationwide electronic ID program launched in 2003. In January, the number of e-IDs in use exceeded 8 million, representing more tah 90 percent of the targeted population. The cards are being produced by the Auto-ID specialist Zetes and integrate Gemalto technologies, such as Sealys MultiApp ID and Sealys Laser-Secured Card. In addition to the usual national ID document functionality, Belgian citizens use their e-ID card to prove their identity on the Internet, request official documents, fill in forms and sign documents electronically.

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