Digital identity. What is that?

July 19, 2021

The European Digital Identity will be available to EU citizens, residents, and businesses who want to identify themselves or confirm certain personal information. It can be used for both online and offline public and private services across the EU. Its function is to allow users to easily prove their identity for digitally signed messages, like a passport. It will become mandatory for airlines, banks, and telecom companies in all EU countries starting in 2020.

The use of digital identity is already widespread in many parts of the world. Many of these countries have taken on the initiative of digitizing official documents to advance their technological advancement and improve the ease and efficiency with which their citizens interact with each other. In addition, a study on digital identity by the World Economic Forum found that digitally authentic credentials are essential in today's global economy.

In 2007, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) called for developing secure "universal digital identity" systems as a central element of its decade-long policy agenda. In 2009, following the ITU's request, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published XRDS 1.0 as a first collaborative step to develop XML-based standards to secure universal digital identities.

Many countries allow or require digital identity services offered by the private sector, especially for online services. The private sector is often more capable of providing efficient and user-friendly solutions. The W3C maintains a list of all valid providers in its Universal Discovery Service directory.

In April 2014, India launched its "Digi-ID" service. This service allows citizens to identify and authenticate themselves using their mobile phones. The service includes storage of all personal information and is used in conjunction with national "e-KYC" services offered by banks and financial institutions. In addition, in November 2014, the US Federal Trade Commission released a report titled "The Future of Identity: Marketing and Consumer Identity." The report's stated goal was to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about their identities, privacy protection, and technology investments.

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