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Detailed Overview

The GSC-IS (Government Smart Card-Interoperability Specification) architecture is based on the concept of a Smart Card Service Provider Module (SCSPM). An SCSPM implementation provides a standard, interoperable set of smart card services to client applications through a Basic Services Interface (BSI). Since all Smart Card Service Provider Modules must provide the same Basic Service Interface, all SCSPMs are interchangeable at the BSI level. The BSI defines a common, high-level model for smart card services. These services are logically divided into three modules that provide utility, secure data storage, and cryptographic services. The software component of the SCSPM that implements the BSI and communicates with smart cards at the card edge level is referred to as the Service Provider Software (SPS).

The GSC-IS addresses APDU level interoperability by defining a Virtual Card Edge Interface (VCEI) consisting of a standard set of APDUs that support the functionality of the BSI provider modules. Each GSC-IS compliant smart card carries a Card Capabilities Container (CCC), a data structure that describes the differences between the smart card's native APDU set and the standard APDU set defined by the VCEI. An SCSPM retrieves a smart card's CCC and uses it to translate between the VCEI and the card's APDU set. The GSC-IS accommodates any smart card whose APDU set can be mapped to the VCEI using a CCC definition.

Each GSC-IS smart card also contains a GSC data model. The data model provides data portability across GSC-IS card implementations, ensuring that a core set of data elements is available on all cards.