The Guarantor of Trust
A successful information society is one that extracts a strong value out of the use of online applications. It involves facilitating economic transactions, handling of government affairs, end-user online services and more.
This requires internet users to have a solid, secure and convenient way of identifying themselves online – a digital identity.
It’s All Based on Digital Identities
In order to accomplish the above in an efficient, secure and usable way, a holistic system laid on a solid foundation is called upon. There must be a generally accepted, compatible and secure way to identify individuals on the internet – a Digital Identity Management (DIM) system. This lays the foundation that the entire information economy is built upon.
- Digital Identity Management. The system than associates individuals with their respective online identities. Consists of issuing and maintaining tokens (e.g. ID-cards) and certificates with respective information systems, and providing the infrastructure that enables the verification of online transactions.
- Registries. The registries hold and convey the information that is required both for identification and the provision of services. The registries include those of population, businesses, immovables, vehicles and many more.
- Tokens. Token is a security device that enables access for end users. The most common token in terms of e-services is a smart identity card, but a token can also take other forms, e.g. Mobile-ID (WPKI).
- Verification layer is where the requests of token holders are validated and conveyed to the service providers. Two basic use scenarios are authentication and digital signature.
- Services such as online tax filing and company registration, or digitally signed contracts are just the tip of an iceberg.
Although digital identities are also being issued and maintained by private companies (e.g. most retail banks), the digital way of running a country that is interwoven across both the public and private sector, requires a common official digital identity that is issued and backed by the government.
A comprehensible Digital Identity Management system enables the government, citizens and businesses to access a totally new layer of benefits.
The following is a brief list of possible use scenarios:
- Online authentication enables secure and convenient access to e-services. User logs in by using her smart identity card or a mobile phone (WPKI).
- Digital signature. Digital signature built around strong encryption is considered to be legally equivalent to handwritten signature in the EU and other jurisdictions. Contracts, transactions and even multimedia can be signed and time stamped.
- Physical access to public transportation, events or specific areas or buildings can be managed.
- Record keeping. Digital transactions leave a trail that can be used to enhance government and private sector accountability and transparency, and facilitate decision making.