Finland’s Finance Ministry has completed draft legislation for the creation of a digital ID program in the country, according to a new report from YLE, the national broadcasting company. The draft law is expected to be presented to Parliament this autumn.
The aim is to let Finns prove their identity using a mobile ID app, which could be used for both online and in-person transactions ranging from accessing government e-services to picking up a parcel. The Ministry of Finance’s Digitalization Unit is working on two versions of the digital IDs, one for citizens who possess a Finnish identity card and one for foreigners who lack the national ID cards.
The latter could prove particularly beneficial to Finland in economic terms. When plans for the digital ID program were first unveiled earlier this year, the country’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, noted that a number of sector in the Finnish economy were experiencing a talent shortage. Giving foreigners a digital ID that offers easy access to a range of services – in other words, greater socioeconomic inclusion – could help to draw more workers to the country, or at least streamline their inflow.
In developing its digital ID solution, Finland is part of a global trend, with Greece, Qatar, and Tunisia among the latest examples of countries pursuing such programs, not to mention a private sector effort by Apple in the US that involves cooperation from government authorities. It also shares in the whiff of controversy around digital ID, which some privacy advocates and political groups have decried as intrusive government overreach.
According to YLE, citizen consultations about the digital ID program in Finland have seen concerns raised about its threats to data security and its use in surveillance. Riitta Partala, the Director of Digital Identity at the Finnish Digital Agency – which operates under the Ministry of Finance – explained to the outlet that the digital ID is more likely to enhance users’ privacy, as they will be able to control which identity information they would like to share in different transactions.