Finland is poised to become the next country to introduce digital IDs. A ministerial working group has advanced a new legislative proposal that would establish the program, and indicated that the proposal would be submitted to Parliament for an official vote in the fall.
If that vote passes, Finland’s digital ID program could be up and running as early as 2023. The digital IDs would be valid proof of identity in both online and in-person interactions, and are expected to make it easier for citizens to do business with various private and public entities. In that regard, Finland has not accepted a driving permit as strong proof of identity since 2019, so the digital IDs would presumably help fill in a gap in the current economy.
The digital IDs would be distributed through a mobile app. Citizens would be able to go through the app to share their IDs in situations in which proof of identity is required.
The digital ID proposal is also being rolled out alongside a planned overhaul of Finland’s social security number system. As it stands, numbers are assigned based on a person’s gender. The new policy would do away with that rule, which is to say that numbers would be assigned on a gender-neutral basis moving forward. The change would not affect anyone who already has a social security number, but would be kicked in for anyone moving to or born in Finland after 2027.
The Finnish government believes that gender-neutral social security numbers will prevent gender discrimination, and simplify administrative procedures. The Minister of Economic Affairs specifically suggested that the policy would help attract more foreign talent for the workforce, insofar as it would allow the government to issue social security numbers to immigrants and bring them into the country more quickly.
“Many sectors are currently experiencing a shortage of talent, and companies need and want to recruit foreign talent,” said Minister Mika Lintilä. “Being able to issue personal identity codes more quickly will promote work-based immigration.”
Finland is a member of a Digital Identity Working Group that has published guidelines for the creation of interoperable digital IDs. It is now one of several countries that are working toward a digital ID program, and joins a list that already includes Greece, New Zealand, and China, amongst several others.