E-government is the cornerstone of the next-generation of government. Citizens, businesses, and government agencies are already benefiting from their ability to access services and conduct transactions online. E-government programs allow government organizations to deliver services, distribute resources, and administer programs more efficiently, which drives operational costs down.
PKI plays a critical role in e-government by allowing governments to leverage authentication, encryption, and digital signature technologies when issuing identity certificates, business certificates, and device certificates.
The trust enabled by these certificates helps governments:
- Streamline operations. Day-to-day activities such as procurement, tax processing, and benefits administration can be executed online, thus more efficiently.
- Minimize the risk of fraud and waste. This allows governments to protect public assets and conserve funds at a time when tax revenues are dropping precipitously around the globe.
- Disseminate information more easily and securely. By giving citizens convenient online access to such private information as tax and land records, as well as other sensitive data that previously existed only in paper form, governments can increase citizen satisfaction even as they reduce costs.
- Partner with industry. Whether issuing an identity credential in the form of a smart card, token, or other kind of soft certificate, governments must ensure that this credential can be leveraged in non-government applications. This is easily achieved by choosing the right partner and by building interoperability and scalability into the PKI program design.
Implement effective national ID programs
As part of a global trend toward issuing more secure identity documents, an increasingly large number of countries have started issuing national ID cards. These smart cards can be used to access healthcare services, verify employment, and complete online transactions. Countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Germany have already implemented highly successful national identification programs. Indeed, global shipment of smart cards were estimated to grow around 10% in 2010 and reached 6 billion.
PKI provides a common framework for issuing verifiable identities through a natural trust hierarchy. These identities can then be used to electronically sign and encrypt documents for transactions such as filing taxes, redeeming benefits, or applying for jobs. By implementing
national ID programs using PKI, governments can improve the security of the data stored on an ID card and promote greater use of the card in non-government applications such as e-commerce, banking, and social networking.
National ID programs with PKI enable governments to:
- More effectively allocate public resources. As the costs associated with healthcare, pensions, and other public entitlements escalate, it
- has become critical to distribute these resources fairly and efficiently.
- Secure virtual and physical facilities. Implementing access control so that only authorized persons gain access to sensitive information and secure areas has never been more important.
- Secure non-government relationships. PKI credentials can be used to authenticate users who wish to access commercial online services or sign e-commerce transactions digitally. This makes PKI an invaluable element of any successful ID program.
- Meet international compliance standards for data security and privacy. Standards such as those established by the Euro Banking
- Association and International Standards Organization (ISO), as well as the myriad individual privacy acts passed by individual countries, mandate strong authentication and data integrity.
- Participate in interoperability programs. Several projects have been launched by the European Union to promote standards and collaboration for interoperability in e-procurement, identity, and electronic signatures. PKI is the foundation for trust in all of these programs, including Secure IdenTity AcrOss BoRders LinKed (STORK), Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL), and European Patient Smart Open Services (epSOS).