Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

The benefits of cross-border interoperability for eIdentification

Article
Today, the access to online services provided by the public and the private sector is more and more linked to e-identification and e-authentication.

--- Posted by Gábor Bartha, DG INFSO, Policy officer: ICT for Government and Public Services, Workshop organiser at the Digital Agenda Assembly

Today, the access to online services provided by the public and the private sector is more and more linked to e-identification and e-authentication. There are already many Member States providing their citizens with national e-identification and e-authentication instruments (e.g. eID card, mobile phone ID) designed to be used for online transactions. In some Member States the use of these instruments is restricted to eGovernment services, in others they can be used generally by all business sectors.

However, all Member States are confronted now with "non nationals" equipped with e-identification and e-authentication means from other Member States which do not fit into the national solution. The low degree of interoperability of the different national solutions used makes the cross-border use of national e-IDs and e-authentication means very difficult.

What are the key challenges? How to recognise the "national" eIDs provided by other Member States which are based on national personal identifier (e.g. identification number) which guarantees the unambiguous identification of the person only in the issuing Member State? This question involves technical and legal issues.

In the context of the Large Scale Pilot STORK a technical solution was developed addressing the technical barriers of cross-border interoperability. From legal point of view the mutual recognition and acceptance of eIDs from all other Member States, at least the ones used for the eGovernment sector is necessary.

What would be the main benefits? Those are clear: citizens and businesses can use their eIDs for the access of at least public online services and the completion of electronic transactions everywhere in the EU. The range of accessible online services would increase massively. Furthermore, the scalability of eIDs would increase due to the fact that the eID can be used not only in the Member State were it was issued but in all other Member States. One of the major benefits for citizens and businesses would be simplification and the reduction of administrative burdens.

The need for moving forward is more than clear. At the Digital Agenda Assembly, the workshop n°02 "What next for e-Identity and e-Signatures?" shall contribute to discover the scope of the planned action and help to avoid any redtapes and drawbacks.

 Share your ideas with us at the event or online using #daa11eid

Comments

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Stork is mostly a vapourware project, so the benefit is clearly income for consultants and simulation of visible EU level policies. Furthermore "Interoperability" policies mean to set (often American) companies under regulatory or commercial pressure to disclose their interface information and move towards "open standards" (free, royalty-free implementable). E-Identity interoperability has nothing to do with that, so it is a rather harmless interoperability branded action for vested interest groups. A detraction from actual interoperability enforcement by the EU which oh-hurts-so-much the old lock-in bulls and a deception for clueless administrative officials who are tasked to do actual interoperability enforcement within their portfolio.
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You say "What would be the main benefits? Those are clear: citizens and businesses can use their eIDs for the access of at least public online services and the completion of electronic transactions everywhere in the EU. The range of accessible online services would increase massively" Bullshit. When you mean online services, you mean channels by which the citizen will have to account to the state. Name one of these so-called "services". It will turn out to be a tax or a restriction on liberty.
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I think that we should remove all the restrictions, I guess that this is the best strategy!
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Maybe they should change the members of the commission this year, I am sure that new people will create new laws!
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I think that the main part of international online services I need are already provided by others. I buy Lego online. I use 2 channels to do so: ebay and www.bricklink.com. I pay using PayPal. What value could a european 'digid' possibly add to that? All public services targeted in the article that could be really useful to me, will be national I guess. What business do I have with German government directly? I need a Dutch passport to prove who I am when staying in Germany, a Dutch driver's license to ride the Autobahn, and a Dutch proof I've got no criminal record to work there. So I think it's better for the Dutch government to concentrate on enhancing the use and the easyness of use of their national digid. Secondly, a technical solution like STORK won't win me over. A technique can be merely supporting to a much more important issue: trust. I trust ebay, bricklink and PayPal. This trust is funded on my own experiences with these services, other people's experiences I've read on a forum where I feel at home, the feature 'feedback' on sellers and buyers at ebay as well as bricklink, and PayPal's guarantee to restore your money if the seller didn't deliver. Those companies and services have got something to lose: their name and fame and with it their business. A government won't lose it's business when messing up an online service. I do have more trust in the commercial services I mentioned than in the Dutch digid, which I only (can) use for income tax purposes, and feels fiddly when I use it. My third point is: I mainly buy from German, French, US, Canadian, Taiwanese, Singaporese and HongKong sellers. A European digid will be only a partial solution, and global services like Paypal or ebay will always win my favor above EU-only services. I only once needed an international government service: a visum. It was for visiting Bejing. EU member countries have agreements and cooperations like the Schengen treaty, which make things far more easy than being able to ask for a visum online. Concentrate on those agreements and cooperations.  
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Dear Erik, ID cards are already internationally harmonized, as are standards for electronic ID. Stork is vapourware, where consultants talk about what-if scenarios and mainstream the term Interoperability. I have watched their presentation at Cebit. A modern sort of alchemy, a panacea, and officials and businesses on the national side often believe in their narrations about what they "do" on the EU level while the whole project is about talking things up. In reality the outcome of the project will be zero. It's burning of public cash, maybe a cover-up project for something more real. And they don't only do eID, they have other snake oil in store as well: Pilot2 - Safer Chat - To promote safe use of the Internet by children and young people https://www.eid-stork.eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=86&It... Ministry officials are excited because MPs asked them about actions in that context. Digital media professionals on the other hand instantly facepalm when they read it. But in terms of the micropayment service, the customer services of this Luxembourg company are a real scandal from my perspective. You have a company where the complaint hotline appears to be a major income source and they create a lot of unnecessary trouble for you with a partially defuct IT process. And they are a defacto monopolist. I don't see the Luxembourg regulators take the appropriate actions against the abritrary decision processes  or how their operations could be possibly in line with EU private banking standards. Interop-wise I trust my own bank moe and I want to pay with their online banking services.
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