Upcoming digital identity initiatives impacting your live

22 Jun 2022 12:15h - 13:30h

Session webpage

Event report

Following up on the discussions about digital sovereignty, the session discussed what digital identity entails and how to take the idea of sovereignty at a personal level.  

In his opening statement, Mr Klaus Stoll (Executive Director, Internet Integrity Taskforce) noted that even if we define a digital identity as ‘nothing more than applications or algorithms, behind every digital identity, like behind every digital stakeholder, there stands a real person with rights and responsibilities’. Therefore, a digital identity needs to be assessed not only by its usefulness and functionality, but, more importantly, by how it incorporates and reflects fundamental and common human rights and responsibilities. Stoll, together with Mr Michael Palage (Chief Trust Officer, InfoNetwork), highlighted that a digital identity is a fundamental human right and should be recognized under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Many different technological solutions for digital identity have been devised, each claiming to be better than the others, as noted by Palage. Therefore, any solution to the issue of which to use should be technology agnostic. By ensuring such a solution, Palage stresses, a greater likelihood of global interoperability and greater user adoption will be provided.

In addition, Palage stated that a critical aspect of ensuring that the utilisation of digital identities reaches its full potential lies in granting individuals meaningful control over how their personal identity information is used. Digital sovereignty, that is, retaining control over personal data, was also addressed by Mr Gerhard Andrey (Member of the Swiss Parliament). Andrey explained the logic behind the self-sovereign identity. Users should control who receives personal data and the purpose to which it is applied; no other entity should track what users are doing with this data. That is the fundamental principle that Switzerland is putting into place.  

Ms Polina Malaja (Policy Director, Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries – CENTR) referred to the actions that the EU is taking towards ensuring that all EU member states have a functioning cross-border electronic identification scheme available for their citizens. She noted that existing regulations do not provide each EU citizen with a valid electronic ID; therefore, a proposal for the regulation on European digital identity was issued in June 2021. The proposal conforms to cybersecurity and data privacy standards and requires each member state to issue a European digital identity wallet under the national identification scheme.

Finally, Mr Stefano Quintarelli (Chairman of the Advisory Group on Advanced Technologies (UN/CEFACT)) pointed out some of the challenges that Italian citizens face with digital identity. He shared an example of digital COVID-19 certificates. He noted that digital identity both gives rights and takes away rights to citizens. That power is growing significantly in importance and it needs to have special transparency and oversight, which is very difficult to obtain if it is managed only inside a single body, such as a ministry. Therefore, the control of the administration of digital identity should be scattered and overseen by different bodies, so as to have as many possible authorities managing and monitoring its use.

By Katarina Andjelkovic