Feeds

Emirates wedges national ID cards inside NFC phones

ID-by-handset to become norm after gov inks deal with Etisalat

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The United Arab Emirates has signed up local operator Etisalat with a view to getting the national ID card embedded into mobile phones.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by the Emirates Identity Authority and Etisalat, sets out a plan for both parties to examine the feasibility of implementing the existing ID Card as an NFC application installed on a mobile phone, meaning that forgetting one's handset wouldn't just be inconvenient, it would be illegal too.

The existing card, which arrived in 2004, uses an ISO7816 chip (same as a credit card) to store encrypted credentials including the holder's name, birthday, gender and photograph, and the 15-digit key to the Population Register which was set up at the same time. Also stored on the chip, but not printed on the card, are the holder's fingerprints.

A phone wouldn't have all those details in human-readable form, printed on the outside, but it would have a short-range radio for relaying them to a reader (complying with the NFC standard), so we'd assume that Etisalat will be pricing up the cost of those readers for the government.

Etisalat has a history of working closely with the UAE government. Back in 2009 the operator sent out a "patch" to all its BlackBerry users that was nothing more than thinly-disguised snoopware. Fortunately the "network upgrade", as Etisalat called it, was so badly written it was flagged almost immediately much to the embarrassment of all involved.

Carrying an ID card in the UAE is mandatory at all times, so once the card is in a mobile then one will have no excuse not to have one handy. That might sound draconian, but it's worth remembering that failing to carry a mobile has already prompted arrests in Germany and France (on the grounds that one must be hiding something).

Once one has digital ID cards, then pushing them into mobile phones is a logical evolution, and the induction-powered NFC (which works when the phone's battery is dead) is a suitable technology, as UAE residents should soon find out. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley
'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.