The Digital European will demand – and receive – proper digital services

Last week the EU Commission proposed a trusted and secure Digital Identity for all Europeans. In this blog I share my views on what this means to the way how we deliver and consume digital services in the future.

“When in doubt, do the right thing!”
– Roy Ash

The Commission recently proposed a framework for a European Digital Identity which will be available to all EU citizens, residents, and businesses in the EU. Let’s see, what was said about the topic during the press conference on Jun 3rd, 2021:

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age said: “The European digital identity will enable us to do in any Member State as we do at home without any extra cost and fewer hurdles. Be that renting a flat or opening a bank account outside of our home country. And do this in a way that is secure and transparent. So that we will decide how much information we wish to share about ourselves, with whom and for what purpose. This is a unique opportunity to take us all further into experiencing what it means to live in Europe, and to be European.”

Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said: “EU citizens not only expect a high level of security but also convenience whether they are dealing with national administrations such as to submit a tax return or to enroll at a European university where they need official identification. The European Digital Identity wallets offer a new possibility for them to store and use data for all sorts of services, from checking in at the airport to renting a car. It is about giving a choice to consumers, a European choice. Our European companies, large and small, will also benefit from this digital identity, they will be able to offer a wide range of new services since the proposal offers a solution for secure and trusted identification services.”

What’s the big deal here? Europe has been considered a laggard in all things digital, maybe for a good reason. What’s different this time?

In the past few decades, all the fuzz has been about digitalization of services. However, the way and especially the terms on how people may use those services, has been a secondary concern. This development has resulted in practices where in some cases even some basic rights of people, especially in terms of privacy and sovereignty, have been compromised. The provider of the platform may require, for example, that they own all the data you produce on the platform and that they can use the data to create any kind of profiles based on that data for the purpose of monetizing their knowledge about the user. If that is not OK, you cannot use the platform. For a growing number of people, privacy and sovereignty in the digital world are important values.

Now the focus is being changed to the digitalization of people. Quite simply, the goal is to equip the “Digital European” with all the same communication capabilities and sovereignty as what the “analog citizen” has always had. If the Digital European wants to digitally communicate a fact about them to a service or another Digital European – a person or an organization – they can do it, in a fully sovereign manner.  This provides a new foundation for digital service development. No longer will people be monetizable users of platforms, but sovereign digital members in a digital network of trust.

I cannot overemphasize the potential, that this fundamental change in thinking means to the digital services and their development. Within Findy Cooperative, we have researched this world of Self-Sovereign Identities and Networks of Verifiable Data for a few years and we think that we can predict, what the future will hold. Even though the new world of people-centric trust-based digital services looks a whole lot different from the current service-centric world, we like what we see. There will be plenty of new service opportunities out there for all those, who want to interact with the Digital Europeans. We have learned that the development of digital services becomes much easier when you can create them for truly digital citizens. Connecting those services together to provide a meaningful whole for the user becomes also much easier, as the Digital Europeans may get facts from one service to their wallets and use them in another service.

The Findy Cooperative is excited to see that the principles advocated by this legislative proposal are fully aligned with our design principles and goals. We are looking forward to contributing to this development also in the future, both in Finland and in the European context. We have accumulated quite a lot of expertise about this topic, and we’re happy to share it. Europe is doing the right thing!

Author: Timo Hotti, Board member, Findy Cooperative

Lisää kirjoituksia