What will the EU Digital Identity Wallet be like?
The Digital Identity Regulation recently adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union gives the green light for EU citizens to have a virtual wallet linked to their identity. It will allow official documents to be stored digitally and formalities to be carried out with a high degree of security.
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have reached an agreement on the creation of a Digital Identity Wallet that will be legally valid and operational in any EU country. This electronic identification should make it possible for citizens to carry out transactions in public and private online services in a reliable and secure way that guarantees the protection of their personal data.
These apps will allow citizens to store and manage their identity data and official documents in digital format. Documents such as ID cards, driving licences, electronic signatures or educational certificates will be stored virtually in a mobile application, to be used directly and without the need to share data with third parties.
This would speed up many bureaucratic procedures in our country and when travelling to other EU member states. It would facilitate the process of registering as a resident, opening a bank account, taking out a loan, taking out a mortgage or paying with a digital wallet. It would also provide an alternative to the technological monopoly held by US and Chinese companies, the dominance of which is of concern to the EU and has been one of the triggers behind this initiative.
When will it be available?
By 2024, all EU member states will have to make a digital identity wallet available to all citizens who want it. This will not be an easy task considering that currently, only 14% of major public services in all EU member states allow cross-border authentication with electronic identification.
In this context, EU regulators intend to convene 140 public and private entities from 19 EU states to resolve technical, business and regulatory issues around the provision of a digital identity.
Pilot tests of four large-scale projects across 25 member states were launched on 1 April 2023, with the aim of exploring the practicality of digital identity portfolios in real-life scenarios that reach across different sectors. The aim is for at least 80% of citizens in member states to have access to an interoperable digital identity by 2030.
Data protection and the right to anonymity
The widespread implementation of a new system of digital identification of citizens may raise issues of security and anonymity. Who will have access to our data? What use can be made of this data?
In a joint statement on the new EU regulation on digital identity, scientists and researchers from 39 countries warn that “The current proposal radically expands the ability of governments to monitor both their own citizens and residents across the EU by providing them with the technical means to intercept encrypted web traffic, as well as undermining existing oversight mechanisms that European citizens rely on.
On the other hand, European authorities claim this tool will fully respect the user’s choice of whether to share personal data – independently certified – and that it will offer better protection against misuse, tracking or interception. Adding that “the revised law preserves the current well-established security norms and standards in the industry”.
With privacy as one of the main concerns surrounding the introduction of a digital euro, the adoption of new regulation on the digital identity of the citizenry potentially making it even easier for governments to monitor and mass surveillance of the population, a debate between all parties involved is not only necessary but essential.
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