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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Our European Digital ID is coming

National identity used to be an exclusive right of nations, consequently, digital identity has been built at first as a national prerogative. Then the need to internationalize ID came up, with ICAO standards, for instance. In Europe, leaders on digital ID include Estonia, Germany, Belgium, and a few others. Now, in an always-increasing movement towards European integration, the EU is launching a European-level digital ID wallet project.

As not all European governments are on par on digital ID, a European project will leverage the field and provide a unified platform of services for all citizens. Based on existing digital IDs issued by member states, the just announced “European Digital Identity” project, will allow EU citizens, residents, and businesses to identify themselves or provide confirmation of certain personal information. It will be available for use for both online and offline public and private services across the EU.

With the European Digital Identity, EU citizens will have a digital identity that is recognized anywhere in the EU, allowing them to control how much information they share with each service that requires some personal information.

The European Digital Identity will take the form of a smartphone app that will be accessed via biometric authentication such as fingerprints or iris scanning as well as other methods. Users will be able to store payment details and passwords and to log into local government websites in all 27 countries; it will also serve as a vault where users can store official documents such as a driver’s license.

The move to a European Digital Identity is driven by the need to provide all European citizens the same rights anywhere in the EU as well as a will to provide European level government driven services to counteract the expansion of the US-based GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). “Every time an app or website asks us to create a new digital identity or to easily log on via a big platform, we have no idea what happens to our data in reality. That is why the Commission will propose a secure European e-identity,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Of course, there is some political opposition to the project. Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said the scheme was a sign the bloc is moving towards an illiberal superstate, according to the Express, a Eurosceptic UK media. “Slowly but surely the European Union is copying and implementing the Chinese governmental style, transforming Europe, from a space of liberty and prosperity, in a huge concentration camp ran by eurocrats that, using a Big Brother centralized style system, want to micromanage and control every aspect of the life of the Europeans,” he added.

Eurosmart, the voice of the secure transactions industry, has published a statement in which the association “welcomes the European Commission’s proposal establishing a framework for a European Digital Identity.” The association points out the new project is based on eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services), for which Eurosmart had brought a significant contribution. Eurosmart insists on the expertise of our industry on digital identity, cybersecurity certification and standardization to propose our services to the European Commission.

The European Digital Identity is expected to be fully operational in about a year.

Photo credits: Photos by cottonbro from Pexels - by Alex Iby on Unsplash - by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels - by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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