'Citizens should have more control over their digital identity'

26/01/2024
69

As we look towards a European digital wallet - Queen Máxima recently spoke about it in Davos - it is important not to antagonise those who have privacy concerns in the process. Because protecting your personal data deserves a broad public debate on the why and how of digital identity, ultimately choosing a solution that is compliant with the AVG and, as much as possible, also gives citizens ownership and control over their data. In other words, 'privacy and secure by design'!

Of course, there can be privacy risks when using a digital identity, but that depends entirely on for what purpose and how you design the system. Now, when you need to prove who you are or that you are entitled to something, such as when you want to take out an insurance policy or order an alcoholic drink, you have to show/scan/copy your ID and leave information with all sorts of different agencies in their systems. Thereafter, you have no overview and control over this.

With such a central system as your paper passport, it is relatively easy to control and enforce, but it is sometimes impossible for you as a user to prove your identity without sharing a large amount of sensitive personal data. Your paper passport is also a secure way to identify yourself, but the advantage of a digital identity is that you can also design it decentralised, so you decide who sees your personal data and when.

Governments have actually been doing this for years by imposing all kinds of requirements on digital (security) solutions. Think of a digital signature, for instance. If you design a digital identity where every citizen has a kind of digital safe to which you alone have the key, then you can use that digital solution to put the control entirely in the hands of the citizen: you only share that information that is necessary. Or even better: you can prove you are over 18 without leaving any information behind or revealing your date of birth. You don't have to scan your passport at the gate, because your flight ticket is in your digital safe and linked to your identity. You can prove at the gate that you are allowed to fly without leaving any such information.

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