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European Digital Identity Wallet: a step towards a European digital identity
The European Commission’s goal is to create a single digital identity system, based on an interoperable digital wallet available to all EU citizens, residents and businesses. It will allows for the storage and use of digital identity data for accessing public and private services, online and offline, on the European territory.
This ambitious goal would unify, through the mobile European Digital Identity Wallet, the electronic identification solutions of the different Member States in compliance with the elDAS Regulation (electronic IDentification Authentication and Signature) – EU Regulation n ° 910/2014-.
To better understand the advantages of the pan-European digital wallet, we must understand what digital identity is. It is the set of data and information that, within a given computer system, define a natural person.
Digital identity is the virtual representation of a real identity and allows electronic interaction with other individuals or IT systems. Therefore, the natural person becomes a user who can access a system and carry out their activities on the network through the use of unique credentials, i.e. a user ID (or username) and a password (authentication credential).
In an increasingly digital world, the European Commission’s goal is to ensure that citizens can access electronic services in a simple, secure and efficient way, regardless of the EU country they were in. Currently, according to data from the official website of the European Union, in the section dedicated to the EU digital strategy, only 60% of the EU population in 14 Member States is able to use their electronic identity card (eID ) outside their national context.
What changes with the European Digital Identity Wallet?
The digital wallet will allow citizens to store and manage identification data and official documents in digital formats, such as driving licenses or medical prescriptions.
Through the electronic wallet, the user can prove their identity to access online services, share digital documents, or prove some personal data without revealing others. It means that the user always has full control of their data and can choose which information to share, always keeping track of all interactions.
What are the characteristics and advantages of the European digital identity?
The European digital identity must meet the following requirements:
- Availability to any EU citizen or resident who intends to use it;
- Wide usability to identify or demonstrate personal information through the digital identity wallet to gain access to public and private digital services across the EU;
- Guarantee for the user to fully control their data by choosing which attributes of their identity to share for accessing the service.
It should also be remembered that digital wallets can be provided by public authorities or private entities, as long as they are recognized by a Member State.
According to the European Commission, the advantages of the European Digital Identity are as follows:
- It guarantees every person owning a national identity card the right to have a digital identity recognized anywhere in the EU;
- It is a simple and secure way to control what information to share with services that require data sharing;
- It offers citizens a tool that works through digital wallets available on smartphone applications and other devices, and allows:
– Online and offline identification;
– Retention and exchange of information provided by governments, such as name, surname, date of birth, citizenship;
– Storage and exchange of information provided by reliable private sources;
– Use of information to confirm the right to reside, work or study in a particular Member State.
When will the European Digital Identity Wallet be available?
The European Commission’s strategy provides that by 2030 80% of citizens will have to use an eID solution. To make European digital identity a reality, it called on Member States to prepare a package of common tools by September 2022 and immediately start the necessary preparatory work.
The European Digital Identity, Architecture and Reference Framework – Outline – requires experts from Member States to work in close coordination with the European Commission and stakeholders from the public and private sectors, to present a draft Toolbox to implement digital wallets in the second half of the year. After that, there will be the launch of the first tenders to develop the prototypes and the construction of the support infrastructure in 2023. Naturally, the European Digital Identity Wallet must comply with the EU Cybersecurity standards and according to the European Commission they will be available starting from 2024.