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272,000 renew ID card certificates, authorities say busiest time over

The detected security risk affects all ID cards issued after October 2014, when Estonia switched to a different kind of chip.
The detected security risk affects all ID cards issued after October 2014, when Estonia switched to a different kind of chip. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

By late Monday evening more than 272,000 people had updated the certificates of their ID cards, the Information System Authority (RIA) reported. 56,000 did so at a service point of the Police and Border Guard.

According to RIA, 216,000 people used their computers to update their security certificates. Margus Arm, in charge of RIA's e-ID department, said on Tuesday that the most active user base of the ID card had already gone through the process, which is why things had calmed down.

"We started a campaign yesterday asking everybody who hasn't updated their ID card yet to do so," Arm said. While there would be billboard ads and radio clips this week, they would also add a TV campaign later, he added.

The authorities set up seven temporary service points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, and Narva on Saturday and Sunday. Some 1,400 used the opportunity to get their ID card certificates updated there, more than half of them in Tallinn.

"We had very positive feedback, even though in some places people had to wait in line for more than an hour," Margit Ratnik of the Police and Border Guard (PPA) said.

According to Ratnik, the majority of those who stopped by a PPA service point weren't regular ID card users.

"Particularly in the case of many elderly people it's about renewing the ID card certificates just in case, and for that they're ready to wait in line as well," Ratnik said, adding that all those who didn't use their ID card and never opened the envelope with the codes didn't need to rush. That their cards couldn't be used in digital transactions didn't mean that they had lost their validity as a personal document, and they could still be used for digital prescriptions, and wherever they were set up as part of a company or shop's loyalty scheme.

PPA will continue setting up temporary service points in different places across the country the next few weekends as well. They will announce when and where later this week.

Encryption service not available for affected cards until end of year

According to RIA's Margus Arm, all those who weren't affected by the potential security risk could go on using their ID cards to encrypt documents as well.

For everyone else, things would still take some time: even with renewed certificates, encryption likely won't be available before the end of the year, Arm said.

Update software to avoid glitches

Arm also advises to only use cards with renewed certificates with the latest versions of ID card reader drivers and software. If a card is used with an older version, there could be glitches, he said, in some cases leading to locked cards.

Any version of the software published before Oct. 24 doesn't support the renewed certificates, Arm pointed out.

ID card certificates can be renewed until Mar. 31 next year for all the cards affected by the potential security risk identified earlier this year. Starting Apr. 1, 2018, a renewal isn't possible anymore, and anyone affected will have to apply for a new ID card.

At the same time, for any other purpose than its digital options, the ID cards remain valid until the expiration date noted on each individual card. Until then, they are accepted as a means of identification in Estonia as well as across the EU, and can also be used to get digital prescriptions.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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