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  • Thierry Spanjaard

There is no smooth path to innovation!

This week the International Security Forum happens in Lille, France, along with the ID Forum as a side conference. This is a great opportunity to reconnect in real life after a too long period on online exchanges. Of course, the interactions between government identity and digital identity are at the core of debates.

Even if we all expect an innovation process to follow a smooth path with a combination of technology developments and implementations, we have to admit some events trigger fast steps forward. We all remember 9/11 was a decisive step for governmental identity with the adoption of ICAO standards leading to electronic and then biometric passports. The COVID-19 crisis will be remembered as the trigger for Digital Identity.

The experience of lockdowns all over the world has led all of us to reconsider person to person meetings and to evolve to digital interactions between people and with public and private services. As a consequence, the need for secure means of proving one’s identity and getting access to services has reached the public at large. The health crisis has meant that more people among the public became aware of security issues, especially in the field of physical and digital ID.

Our industry already had solutions ready, waiting for decisions to be made. The COVID-19 crisis has been a trigger for the implementation of digital IDs and their interaction with government IDs. The French electronic National ID card has finally been launched in Q3/2021, an additional demonstration of the acceleration of real life implementations in this field. The date was due to a combination of factors including the readiness of technology, the new emergency brought by the health situation and the deadline fixed by European authorities.

Especially when it is linked with a digital ID, a government ID becomes a powerful tool. The implementation has been set up with privacy as a primary concern. The principle is to always allow the citizen to control access to their own data and to ensure they keep control over which piece of information is accessible to which entity. This has been achieved thanks to a tight collaboration between public and private entities leading to proposing a set of services for the new national eID, under strict supervision of public authorities.

Governments, at least in Europe, are now conscious that if they are not directly involved in the provision of sovereignty services, private entities, especially the GAFAM, are ready to take their place, not only on allowing people to own and prove their identity but also on all aspects of traditional governmental sovereign privileges such as issuing money, or setting up healthcare policies. The balance of power between large corporations and governments is leaning on the government side again.

With the COVID, governments are back!

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