Yesterday we celebrated that the National Currency and Stamp Factory (FNMT) had finally launched the application with which citizens can request the digital certificate from any computer, on Windows, macOS and Linux. It is great news for hundreds of thousands of people, but all was not well.
While preparing the news articles and usage tutorials in Genbeta and Engadget, we noticed that the download of the application was extremely slow. And it is not that we have become tremendously demanding, no, it is that on this computer from which I write it was impossible to download it, because it directly failed, my connection being very stable.
The same thing happened to other Webedia colleagues, taking the download up to two hours (at speeds like 56 KB / s or less) or throwing errors. What with a good fiber could be seconds, multiplied in time by more than a thousand times. Getting the executable for any of the three platforms was an odyssey: we trusted that some of the attempts would be fruitful, and we were lucky.
The solution of the National Currency and Stamp Factory? Upload files to Google Drive
When we wanted to download the files today to test the tool on macOS, our surprise was that in addition to the official links, hosted at a government address (https://www.sede.fnmt.gob.es/), the FNMT also it has been uploaded at about 1 pm to a Google Drive account owned by “Ceres Support”. Ceres means “Spanish Certificates”.
On the download website, the FNMT indicates the following: “Due to the high number of downloads that are being made, we have temporarily enabled the download from Google DriveIn other words, they recognize that the download speed of the application is not sufficient, and they point to saturation of the servers due to high activity. At the moment, the download stabilizes around 100 KB / s.
“Due to the high number of downloads that are being made we have temporarily enabled the download from Google Drive”
The official download was enabled yesterday and it is possible that this caused many people to download the application, but the problem existed even before it was announced to the public in media like this. Although it is August, on the other hand, it is possible that the situation of the pandemic leads many more people than usual to carry out procedures electronically, and that makes the downloads increase.
In any case, the FNMT is attached to the Ministry of Finance and uses government servers to which the necessary resources should be dedicated to ensure that users can download the necessary files to carry out online procedures quickly, directly and safely.
Using Google Drive solves some of the problems, and it is appreciated that solutions are found to help people. But this one, specifically, It is not a very elegant one coming from a public entity, and more in the download of a tool called to solve so many incompatibility complaints. Borja Adsuara, a lawyer specialized in Digital Law, has told us that the practice “is legal if it is done in the Google subsidiary in the European Union, subject to the General Data Protection Regulation”.
Response from the FNMT
From Genbeta we got in touch with the FNMT to find out the reasons for what happened, and they told us that “not a bandwidth issue [sino] of the management that the download server is doing “.
“All our services are oversized to respond to increases in traffic “produced by specific events (such as the beginning of the presentation of the Income Statement), they explain.
And they insist on making it clear that their servers have “sufficient capacity to properly handle millions of daily transactions between visits to the web, certificate validations, time stamps, etc.”, all of them services that are “not being affected” in any way.
Regarding the use of Google Drive they define it as “a quick measure to try to decongest and that users do not suffer […] in parallel to the resolution of the incident we are looking for other storage options “.