New ID cards could be used to sign e-contracts
8 April 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgians could soon be signing contracts electronically, thanks to the country’s new hi-tech ID cards, it was reported on Friday.
At a press conference on Thursday, Peter Vanvelthoven, the secretary of state for IT, demonstrated how electronic ID cards could allow the signing of contracts without having to put pen to paper and send them by post or fax.
Vanvelthoven put his own electronic signature on the bottom of a tax declaration on the web.
He said some 350,000 Belgians now have electronic ID cards, containing an electronic chip loaded with personal information such as name and date of birth.
They could use the cards to identify themselves online and sign contracts in the popular PDF (Portable Document Format) format, he said.
By the end of the year, the government wants to see more than a million Belgian citizens with an electronic card.
The government is also working with the computer firm Adobe to develop ways to encrypt PDF documents sent out by the authorities so that they can only be opened by one specific citizen.
The Belgian government is one of the first to pioneer mass ID cards in this way and is also working with Microsoft to use them to combat internet fraud.
Microsoft boss Bill Gates has praised Belgium for its innovation in this area.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news