I missed this announcement up until recently but am happy to read that Adobe has started a eID competency centre in Diegem, Belgium. For once our small country is taking a lead in adopting technology and started handing out electronic identity cards. I've had one for over a year now and the plan is to have every Belgian citizen over 12 years old own one by the end of 2009.

At the moment there aren't too many uses for the card yet but a number of eGov initiatives are in the works and things like electronically signing emails, MS office documents and getting immediate access to your information in the national registry. Microsoft has also announced it would add eID integration with MSN Messenger for creating "safer chatrooms" for children.

Now Adobe is also adding the ability to electronically sign PDF documents with the eID card. Great news if you ask me, in the not too distant future I see myself just downloading a PDF form from a government website, certifying it with my eID card, and doing all my administrative formalities without any additional hassle.

Found out there's actually a public Belgium Identity Card Developer's Kit allowing third parties to develop applications that read and validate eID card data. A popular website for senior citizens in Flanders, www.seniorennet.be, is apparently already using eID validation it for its forum and chatroom so I expect many more will follow soon.

Of course you have to wonder how useful things like eID validation are for a website as currently Belgium is the only country implementing this particular scheme, and lets face it we're not China or India in terms of population. If the EU should ever decide to introduce eID cards in all member states things could get a little more interesting for uses other than eGov applications.

Now with Adobe interested in eID, I'd love to see what other technology they plan to integrate it with. What I imagine is Flash Media Server / Breeze doing authentication for conference calls, using it with Flex Data Services in a corporate intranet for employee administration, rights management for SWF content, etc.

Leaving aside the discussion about privacy issues and personal information storage I think this is a wonderful development and am sure many other countries will start to adopt eID cards in the coming few years.

P.S. If you read the eID SDK documentation you'll notice there are a few fields in there you might not have immediately expected ;)

There are WhiteCane and YellowCane fields that are set for blind or partially sighted people, an ExtendedMinority field and even a NobleCondition field that state whether you are royalty.