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EC launches digital identity consultation

European Commission’s consultation will look at revisions to the eIDAS regulation, aiming to improve effectiveness and extend it to the private sector

The European Commission (EC) has launched a public consultation into plans to revise the electronic identification, authentication and trust services (eIDAS) regulation.

The consultation will collect views from stakeholders on planned revisions to the regulation, which includes extending it to the private sector.

EC executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager said the revision would make it easier for citizens to access public services using electronic identification, such as e-signatures.

“The revision aims to improve its effectiveness, extend its benefits to the private sector and promote trusted digital identities for all Europeans and create a secure and interoperable European digital identity which gives citizens control,” she said.

The eIDAS regulation came into force in 2018 and is aimed at promoting and improving trust, security and convenience online through a single set of rules on electronic identification and trust services, including electronic signatures, seals, time stamping, delivery services and website authentication.

This means companies and individuals can use their own national e-identities (eIDs) when they do business or reside in another EU country to support efforts to enable a digital single market in Europe.

Since February 2020, EU citizens and companies in eight member states have been able to use their national eIDs across the EU and, according to the EC, 55% of the EU population will be covered by the end of 2021.

Thierry Breton, EC commissioner for internal market, said that during the coronavirus pandemic, the activity of citizens and businesses had increased, and the “revision of these rules will answer their growing need for a simple, trusted and secure way to identify themselves online”.

He added: “Improving these rules will also provide the framework for offering competitive, convenient and trustworthy digital identity services.”

Read more about digital identity

  • The UK tech sector has urged the government to publish policy to support the creation of a “fully functioning” digital identity market, to boost the digital economy.
  • TechUK has written privately to DCMS secretary of state to express industry frustrations and request ‘urgent needs’ are resolved to enable digital identity market in UK.
  • A regulation aimed at cutting red tape to enable a digital single market in Europe will soon be in full force, but it could present some challenges to the UK after Brexit.

The public consultation will be open until 2 October 2020, and the EC is seeking views from stakeholders and citizens, as well as holding targeted consultations with selected groups of stakeholders.

The UK government launched a consultation on digital identity in July 2019, which was completed two months later. However, the results of the consultation, which sought views on the role of the government and the private sector in developing digital identities, have yet to be published, despite the government promising to do so by spring 2020.

As reported by Computer Weekly, trade body TechUK has now written to digital secretary Oliver Dowden to express frustration with the slow progress of the government’s digital identity policy. The government also launched a Digital Identity Unit in June 2019, but it has yet to become operational.

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