Increased security as a matter of necessity
Launched in 2016, Cameroon's new national identity card and the complete overhaul of its system of identification and card manufacture for new documents illustrate the will of the country's authorities to strengthen security on its territory, in particular by combating identity theft and document fraud.
The national identity card is produced alongside other documents such as resident permits, refugee cards, professional ID cards for personnel of the General Delegation for National Security, retirement cards for public servants having worked in national security, with possibilities for an extension to other public or private government bodies.
So let's take a closer look.
The choice of technological innovation and independence
With Thales, Cameroon's General Delegation for National Security opted for an innovative technological solution that puts Cameroon at the forefront of African nations in the field of secure identity documents.
The electronic and biometric identity documents, in credit card format, are designed to combat fraud and have multiple, both visible and invisible, security features incorporated into them.
For the first time, they incorporate the holder's laser-engraved color portrait in high definition, not on the surface but inside the very body of the card itself.
This innovative approach is a world first. It offers the citizens of Cameroon the benefits of having an identity card which cannot be questioned.
Robust enough to resist intensive usage and extreme climates, polycarbonate is the most reliable and secure material for IDs. It is now available with a color photo thanks to the Gemalto Color Laser Shield card solution.
The polycarbonate identity documents are more resistant to humidity, heat, and aging. This plastic with unique marking and durability properties makes it possible to achieve much higher reliability and security rates than materials used in the past. We further develop in our March 2017 dossier why polycarbonate is getting so popular.
They are fitted with a microprocessor that combines the physical security of the document with a means of electronic security. This feature opens up new possibilities in electronic identification for multiple new forms of use.
In particular, they will allow holders to have secure access to electronic services such as e-government via Internet portals, thanks to strong electronic authentication through a digital certificate issued by the card issuing authority.
The graphic theme visible on the reverse of the new cards represents a landscape near the village of Rhumsiki located in the Far North Province of Cameroon. Abstract geometric figures and patterns have been reproduced across this side of the card, drawing upon traditional Cameroonian fabrics for inspiration.
Holders of these cards will also be able to sign documents with a digital certificate electronically.
Finally, the new identity cards are biometric and have ten fingerprints built into them. Biometrics has been chosen because it has rapidly established itself as the most suitable technology for reliably confirming the holder's identity and thus for effectively combating identity theft.
Cameroon is at the same time also modernizing its solution for the enrolment of citizens opting for Thales' Enrolment platform and its card personalization with its secure issuance software, which implements color laser engraving technology.
The authorities have also opted for mobile verification terminals from Thales.
Thanks to the comprehensive training, maintenance, and knowledge transfer program delivered by Thales, the DGSN will operate the fully integrated system independently. The DGSN will thus be able to handle citizen enrollment and the issuance of personalized cards, then verify the cards using the terminals supplied.
By choosing Thales, Cameroon has opted in favor of
- innovation in digital security technology,
- a chain of trust that is more secure and managed from end to end,
- a solution that puts it at the forefront of African nations in the field of secure identity documents
- a committed, expert, and fair approach, with an ongoing concern for the general interest, meeting the expectations of the DGSN and the people of Cameroon.
Has joined forces with
- the world leader in digital security,
- a significant player in the modernization of states,
- a supplier experienced in the new generation of complete secure solutions
- a specialized service provider: technology transfer, consulting, integration, training, and maintenance
- an equipment supplier investing in Africa and a part of whose teams are now present on the continent to develop solutions and/or carry out systems maintenance.
Thorough organization and crucial synergies
In addition to the synergies between those involved and the thoroughness of the organization, Thales' expertise, combined with that of the Cameroonian authorities and their joint will to succeed, is crucial for the success of the project.
They illustrated how a contracting public authority and an industrial contractor could work together effectively, in close collaboration, based on a mutual trust relationship, to define a national project on a large-scale and thus modernize the country.
The move towards a deeply transformed system, with digital identity
Cameroon and Thales are convinced that securing citizens' national identity and protecting their privacy cannot be reduced to a simple upgrade of a system, nor can it be limited to just supplying a new generation of identity documents. At the same time, it is necessary to give oneself the means to adapt to the changing security, social, economic, and technical environment.
Think about it.
The system has to be deeply transformed at all levels: technical requirements, reliability, security, long-term durability, project management, or governance.
The scope of action, previously limited to the production of identity documents, is thus extended to a complete IT overhaul of the identification system. The main objective is to increase further the level of security and protection provided.
To enable Cameroon to meet its objectives, Thales offers a structured tool, running within a trusted digital environment, with high security, interoperability, and data protection: that tool is digital identity.
Choosing the path of modernization to boost the economy
With the growth in electronic transactions and exchanges, digital identity offers citizens the modern means of identification they need to have secure and straightforward access to online services while ensuring their privacy is respected.
These guarantees can only help boost activity in the public sector, thanks to the services that it can provide as a result (eGovernment), and increase competitiveness in the private sector.
In addition to greater security and better protection of identity that it brings, Cameroon's stronger identity scheme opens the door to a digital economy of trust, which it will be able to rely on. It thus contributes to the economic and social development of the country, and its competitiveness, giving it greater national and international reach.
Why is Cameroon so clearly determined to bring its civil identity data and documents into a secure information scheme – particularly in the context of combating document fraud and identity theft?
It's because it is fully aware of the importance of identifying persons as the foundation of a society that recognizes the rightful value of its citizens.
Choosing the path of modernization, making the undertaking to protect the people of Cameroon, their rights and identity, and recognizing their fair value, are all means for the state to consolidate the relationship of trust that has become essential to lay the foundations for Cameroonian citizenship of the future.
What is an electronic ID card, and what is digital identity?
An electronic ID (eID) card fulfills various roles: it acts as a traditional means of identification, a travel document, and finally, as a passkey to each citizen's data.
The public has become accustomed to smart cards through their use in the banking system, and as a result, their reliability is no longer questioned.
eID cards are now also being used as a means of accessing an array of services that were previously difficult to synchronize.
The electronic card and its related digital identity can be used for identification and authentication and electronic signature. Thus, a national ID scheme enables several previously complex information paths to be simplified.
It can be used as:
- A representation of sovereign authority, certifying that the holder is in a legitimate legal position concerning their national jurisdiction.
- A means for citizens to access services and exercise their rights and duties concerning the public authorities.
- A genuine seal of authenticity that the citizen can use to authenticate his or her actions regardless of the exchange formats and media used, since the data used to ensure security and trust also guarantee the legal validity of any transactions certified in this way.
Making citizens a central part of the creation of a modernized state— giving them an active role rather than a peripheral role as a passive user of public services— public services are simultaneously, de facto, repositioning themselves. Identity is made up of a private set of data, of which the State is the custodian.
The conception of the State-Citizen relationship has been profoundly modified. We are entering a new era, in which this relationship can be expressed as a "contract" of rights and obligations.
Citizens register for services and fulfill their obligations, and in return, they benefit from the rights and guarantees offered by the community's social model. This relationship is the very basis of the "Social Contract."
There is more.
The e-ID card is also a passkey to a system in which everyone has their place and can, therefore, make their contribution and have their say (through elections and referendums, for example): e-Democracy.
At a time when security has become a priority, particularly in international transactions, e-ID seems essential. It is a guarantee given by one State to another within a network of trusted and interoperable national systems.
As evidenced by The World Bank's Identification for Development report of January 2016, digital technologies, including biometrics, provide a unique opportunity to build a robust and efficient identification system for the benefits of all when backed by a strong political will.
How can we help you get the most of your identity project?
At Thales, we promote the emergence of a free and more sustainable society by making it more secure.
We have built a structured approach and mode of contribution to government programs, sharing international experience, industrial know-how, and working as a partner to public authorities in numerous countries.
This approach addresses three main areas:
- Securing the identity of citizens
- Protecting their privacy, personal data, and digital rights
- Promoting an optimal framework of trust for digital exchanges to create a reliable deployment of online services.
In the same spirit, we collaborate with our customers to analyze and promote best practices in these areas across the planet.
If you want to reap the digital dividends with digital identity and eGovernment services, discover our August 2016 web dossier.