Digital Identities: “Self-Sovereign Identities (SSI) Propelling Digitalisation”

Secure digital identities are a key factor for further digitalisation in Europe, a stronger convergence of the Digital Single Market, and more efficient public administration. With the existing eIDAS legal framework, the European Union has already laid the foundation for numerous applications that are to be used primarily in business transactions (B2B). For simple single sign-on services that are used in less critical fields, however, the legal framework has not yet been sufficiently developed. However, it is precisely this area (C2B) that is central to the continued success of trust services. Commenting on the update of the eIDAS Regulation by the EU Commission, which is expected to be presented on Wednesday, eco Board Member for IT Security Prof. Norbert Pohlmann has the following to say:

“It is good to see that the EU Commission is finally committed to further strengthening trust services. In Europe, it’s not only public administration and the economy that stand to benefit from a more widespread use of corresponding trust services, but also society as a whole, because this would strengthen user acceptance. The goal must be a European ecosystem for issuing and verifying digital identities and credentials based on Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI). This will enable users to be in possession of their own digital identities and other verifiable digital credentials, and to also control these themselves without having to rely on a central authority. This can free us from dependence on individual monopolistic providers and promote independent and faster digitalisation. In this way, we can strengthen privacy in particular and enable users to deal with their private data in a sovereign manner.”

Ideally, this would require an open standard on the basis of which everyone can manage their own digital identities. As such, Pohlmann calls for interoperability as a central criterion within the framework of the new eIDAS Regulation.

In addition, on a technological level, Pohlmann sees blockchain as offering great potential: “In the SSI ecosystem for digital identities, three actors play a role: the issuer, the owner and the verifier of the identities. For these three stakeholders, blockchain is an ideal and fitting trust service because, as a decentralised network, it provides IT security and trustworthiness mechanisms. In the case of SSI, blockchain as a trust service has the advantage that it is defined by a consortium in accordance with the relevant governance rules, and a central dependency on monopolists can thus be avoided. This is an important basis for an independent and trustworthy ecological system.”

eco – Association of the Internet Industry is currently working on a standardised and open Blockchain Governance Framework to ensure greater trustworthiness in the operation of a blockchain, particularly in the SSI environment.

You can read the more detailed interview with eco Board Member Prof. Norbert Pohlmann on the topic of blockchain-based self-sovereign identities here.

As part of a German-language eco netTalk on 14 June 2021, Prof. Norbert Pohlmann will discuss the topic of Digital Identities, Self-Sovereign Identity & Blockchain with Rafael Laguna, Founding Director of “SprinD”, the Agency for Leading Edge Innovation of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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