Strong Identity for Strong e-Governance

Strong identity policy is essential to any nation across the world. Today, this problematic of e-governance raises as the digital world allows much more than before.

Strong Identity for Strong e-Governance - Policy & Design

Strong identity policy is essential to any nation across the world. Today, this problematic raises as the digital world allows much more than before.

What are the Key Elements of e-Governance and the Role of Digital Identity?

Estonia is a very small country so it might be easy to make changes. But for the same reason, resources to make the changes are smaller than in other countries.

If you are building an e-government strategy, there are important digital elements to think about such as digital databases, interoperability, digital identity, document exchange, services portal, cyber security and sectorial solutions. Citizens want to communicate with their government through digital.

With many governments, you just need to visit offices once, in order to submit your documents for your application and they are collecting the data for you. But you need to visit the office a second time to get your documents. The time consumption for the citizen is high: approx. an hour for the VAT declaration or 38 minutes for i-voting.

In Estonia, they decided that it was better to switch for online services and put self-service available. You can automate a lot of processes in the government administrative. To build e-governance, you need digital databases, a portal putting the services together, secure data exchanges and a strong digital identity.

If your data is in a paper format, no machine can access it. You need to make this data digital and you need a single numeric identifier for the citizens, businesses, land parcels, property and many other important objects. Citizens or businesses should never provide the same data for the government again and again and there shouldn’t be any duplicated data in the government database.

On a daily basis, there is a huge data exchange between governments and institutions. So, to make it possible legally, technically, privacy wise and security wise, you need something better organized. Estonia has implemented a system "X-ROAD" for 15 years which connects all Estonian government data bases, providing 1500+ services for more than 900 organizations and half a billion transactions per year.

About strong digital identity, the Estonian digital identity insurance started in 2002 with Estonian ID card. There is already a second version which covers the whole population with active ID cards. There’s also mobile ID since 2007 and Smart ID. This ecosystem is opened for almost every company or citizen who is willing to use it. The card is the key to log into most of governing or non-governing services which ask for a strong digital identity.

In terms of efficiency, digital signatures save 20 minutes per transaction according to the World Bank Report 2016, which leads to every year almost 5 working days by every citizen using e-ID (= 2% of the working time and also 2% of the GDP).

Speaker: Hannes ASTOK, Estonian e-Governance Academy

Digital ID for Sustainable Development

Everyone on the planet needs an ID, but not everybody has one. Barely 5% of the planet population has an ID and such individuals usually have multiple IDs. However, nearly 20 million people have almost non-identification. This is today part of the UNO sustainable development goals. By 2030, every human on the planet should be provided a legal identity, including free birth registration.

There are about 7,5 billion people on the planet. Almost about 1 billion have no or minimal ID, about 900 million people live in slums or are homeless, 250 million people are migrating from their home, 65 million people flee conflicts or disasters, 21 million are refugees in other countries and 10 million are stateless. Around 700 billion dollars can be saved by having proper identities and nearly 1 trillion dollars can be added by bringing such individuals into the economic mainstream.

In order to achieve that, several agencies and development partners formulated last year the principles of identification. If you are a person or an organization, it is important to look at the principles of this document.

ID and economy must be brought together. There are different aspects and elements of an ID system that a country needs: paperless and cashless delivery systems, open but secured systems with unique digital biometric identity, easy to use APIs. It’s never a single ID system. The legal identity of a person (CRVS - Civil Registration Vital Statistics) and the civil identification system contain elements like biometrics which allow authentication.

Both these systems are needed to interface with the functional systems to determine the right individuals. The importance of this topic shall continue until the last person on the planet has been provided with a legitimate legal identity.

Speaker: Sanjay DHARWADKER, WCC Smart Search & Match

Designing ID Systems / Principles / the Interoperability Challenge

In the digital world, it can be difficult for people to prove their identity, and institutions need to avoid it. State based identity systems have authoritative sources of trust, countries are very good at knowing who their citizens are. They can issue documents and proofs which are the most trustworthy.

There can be frictions, because digital identities are a high-level insurance. All we end up is duplicating the work, prove our ID to the government, to the bank, it’s painful for the user and consume time. Most of the time though, all we really need is strong credentials, so they know it’s the same individual coming repeatedly. Privacy is also not be always considered, which is critical when governments gather lots of civil information including for example the blood type. There’re also silos in government ID systems, not enough interoperability.

Digital identity should be available to everyone. In order to do that, institutions must look at the services people want to consume, how they want to use identity and work in.

Speaker: Adam COOPER, Next ID

Open Source API for National ID Ecosystems: Assuring Interoperability and Harmonization for Sovereign ID Programs

Interoperability is about thinking of which systems are composing the national ID ecosystem: civil registry, civil identification, database collecting all the main attributes linked to individuals, functional registries (driving licence, passport, elections). It is important that every person is the same across all registries and that their attributes are up to date and correct.

We need this different database to talk to one another through interfaces, because interoperability is linked with vendor lock-in. When you don't have interoperability, it might be easy to fall in the trap of collecting more data than you need. Every database should just collect only the data they need to respect user's privacy, and government should put the user at the centre.

The Secure Identity Alliance initiative is about building an interface to connect civil registry and civil identification. This is something we should all do as an identity community, because interoperability is a common problem for every player, companies, governements, etc.

Speaker: Debora COMPARIN, Secure Identity Alliance