Members of a European Parliament committee have endorsed the EU’s proposed digital identity document, and adopted requirements ensuring that it will be accessible to European Union residents without requiring them to use it in lieu of a physical ID.
The Industry, Research and Energy Committee passed the proposed update to the European Digital Identity framework last week with a wide majority – 55 votes in favor, with eight opposed and two abstentions. The amended framework will require EU governments to provide citizens with a digital wallet enabling them to confirm their identities online, without forcing them to obtain an eID from commercial providers.
The framework also requires that the European Digital Identity Wallet be able to read electronic documents, and able to perform peer-to-peer transactions. All transactions must be registered, in a bid to ensure that all third parties “are held accountable,” a European Parliament statement said.
“The Digital Wallet will become a reliable, all-in-one identity gateway that puts citizens in full control of their own data and gives them the freedom to decide exactly what information to share, with whom, and when,” said Romana Jerković, a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. “From social, financial, medical, and professional data, to contacts and much more, it will make it possible to store personal credentials within a single digital ID.”
While European Parliament lawmakers put together the legal framework for the EU’s eID, other bodies are already working with private sector partners to develop and trial technologies that might be involved in the final product. Stockholm-based Scytáles and its Luxembourg-based partner Netcompany-Intrasoft were awarded a contract to develop the European Digital Identity Wallet toward the end of last year, while the NOBID (“Nordic-Baltic eID”) consortium was selected to pilot a related cross-border payments system.
Some of these activities have suggested a potentially prominent role for biometric identity verification technology in the eID program. iProov, a selfie-based IDV specialist, is involved in the NOBID project; and France’s IDEMIA – a global leader in biometric security technologies – revealed in January that it’s part of another consortium involved in an EU Digital Identity Wallet pilot.
As for the European Digital Identity framework that has now got the green light from the EU’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee, it now awaits formal approval from Members of European Parliament in the next plenary session, slated for mid-March.