Why Chromebooks don’t support digital id cards is beyond believe

I’ve been following this posting for YEARS awaiting an update… it’s depressing.“. This only one of the hundred of comments on Google’s Chrome OS product forum about Chrome OS not supporting smart card readers.

A great number of countries are using some type of electronic digital identity card. Most of these countries are European as many of them see e-id cards as an essential element towards improving (and securing) communication between all levels of government and their citizens. Many European citizens already file their taxes or apply for government documents and authenticate with their e-id.

“En France, nous n’avons pas de pétrole, mais nous avons des idées !”
The French used this slogan “we don’t have petrol, but we have ideas” in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis. They saw creativity as an answer to an major economic downturn and a way of creating new economic opportunities.

Estonia, one of the Baltic countries, recently seems to have come up with an alternative version of this slogan to attract new businesses and obtain economic growth: e-residency.

e-Residency offers every world citizen a government-issued digital identity and the opportunity to run a trusted company online, unleashing the world’s entrepreneurial potential.
The e-resident id card can be used to digitally sign documents and contracts, establish an Estonian company online within a day, conduct e-banking and remote money transfers and declare Estonian taxes online.

Digital Agenda for Europe
As part of the EU’s “Digital Agenda for Europe” open government is high on the agenda. Increasing information and knowledge exchange, enhanced connectivity, openness and transparency provide new opportunities for public administrations to become more efficient and effective, provide user-friendly services, while reducing costs and administrative burden.

Being able to authenticate and safely do transactions through a digital id card is a basic element of this strategy. Short term for frontrunners like Estonia, longer term for any member state of the EU.

Smart card reader support essential for Chrome OS adoption
Not only EU consumers complain about this lack of support, but it also disqualifies Chrome OS for many business cases. Two weeks ago we quickly ruled out using Chromeboxes as kiosks for a high profile marathon event. The organizers wanted to encourage participants to self register at the event by reading the personal info from the e-id cards and drastically reduce registration waiting lines.

Finally last week one of the Chrome OS developers posted a message that support for smart card readers will get their attention this quarter. I still don’t understand why that was so low on the priority list. More than likely, complaints from the US military that use smart card authentication, is what finally pushed Google to rethink their priorities.

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