Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Austrian eCard vs Citizen Card

The Austrian Federal Government and their e-government guys really want to push the Austrian Citizen Card ("Bürgerkarte") for all online transactions.
One step to - allegedly - make getting your citizen card easier is the online activation for the public healh-card ("e card") almost every citizen owns.
Should be really easy:

  • get your smart card reader (like the one I got, even subsidized for ecard holders)
  • install the drivers
  • install the citizen card SW
  • log in to the one application where you already have a validated/trusted login, namely "finanz online", the online application for your (federal) tax declaration and (more importantly) returns.
  • and from there you can activate your ecard as a citizencard.
    (if you will: extend the already established trust from finanz online to the new card)
Nicely summarized here.

Attempt #1:
My ecard already containt a PIN or some file, which did not allow the activation of the card.
Called the ecard hotline, was sent a replacement card. Very competent, very friendly.

Attempt #2 - with the new card:
Still got an error message...

Die Bürgerkartenumgebung hat bei der letzen Anfrage folgenden Fehler geliefert: Unbekannter Infoboxbezeichner. SESSION ID :

Searched the fora, found some entries, but no solution (other than re-install).

A-trust say, they don't care, because it's not their software... (very supportive, thanks)
However when you call the toll support number (1,09 EUR per minute, !!!) they are willing to help.

I told the call center agent (very friendly, very competent again) the error message, and he immediately went:
Agent: "Do you have a very new ecard?"
me: "yes, like 4 days old"
Agent: "One with the embossed braille printing on it?"
me: "yes, cause my old one did not work".
Agent: "Well the new one won't work either, because they changed the chip on it, and we don't yet support it. You have to wait until January."
me: "Ok. Thanks. But can you please have that info posted to a forum of FAQ?"
Agent: "Oh, good idea. I'll pass that on."

Still major hurdles... I simply cannot imagine my mother [1] going through that process.

So, still way to go for proper e-government in Austria.

[1] both my real mother, as well as the proverbial mother that appears in all technology problems.

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