In September 2020, President von der Leyen proposed a European Digital ID. Addressing the European Parliament during her first State of the Union speech, the President of the European Commission announced:

Every time an App or website asks us to create a new digital identity or to easily log on via a big platform, we have no idea what happens to our data in reality. That is why the Commission will soon propose a secure European e-identity. One that we trust and that any citizen can use anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying your taxes to renting a bicycle. A technology where we can control ourselves what data and how data is used.

The Commission argues that a European Digital ID (also called a European e-identity, or e-ID) would allow European citizens to have “one common digital identity instead of creating new ones for each website or action they want to take, such as opening a bank account”. Various technical solutions have been suggested to strengthen trust and security in an e-ID, including blockchain technology.

European citizens seem to see value in an e-ID. In a 2019 Eurobarometer survey, 63% of Europeans polled said it would be “quite useful” or “very useful” to have a “secure single digital ID that could serve for all online services (both public and private) and give you control over the use of your data”.

There may also be significant economic benefits from a European Digital ID. One study by McKinsey suggests that “extending full digital ID coverage could unlock economic value equivalent to 3 to 13 percent of GDP in 2030”. Currently, sixteen EU Member States (including Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the Netherlands) have national digital ID systems in place. However, public attitudes towards digital IDs vary between Member States, with some more sceptical than others.

Voters in Switzerland (not an EU Member State) recently rejected an e-ID scheme over privacy concerns. In some countries, studies suggest there is public wariness around issues of government technical competence, as well as memories of mass public surveillance during the 20th century, citing “negative past experiences of IT failures, function creep, and political history of oppression”.

Should there be a European Digital ID? How can Digital IDs be introduced to the public in a way that reassures sceptics? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) vladwel; PORTRAIT CREDITS: Ursula von der Leyen (c) European Union


23 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Kimmo

    I would welcome one. In view of the privacy and surveillance issues, though, the administration should be absolutely transparent and trustworthy.Another thing that would “unlock economic value”, as the story says, would be to introduce a pan-European standard for e-invoicing. Cross-border e-invoicing is too difficult when, as in the e-ID case, every country has its own standards. This was one of the topics of the Single Market Forum in Krakow in 2011 – 10 years ago! – and still no progress.

  2. avatar
    Craig

    Wants it to be easy to track you. You can control your data, or be allowed to control your own data without a centralized database,

    • avatar
      Kimmo

      Craig Costa, out of interest, how does e-ID, in your opinion, make it easy to track you? The mere existence of my ID in a database does not tell anyone where I am or what I do, unless I use it. Rather like credit cards – no one knows what you bought where if you didn’t. Also, passport data is shared widely across authorities in different countries, how would e-ID be different?

    • avatar
      Alexandru

      Craig Costa Europe is not US …

    • avatar
      Eero

      With the modern internet usage, you (and me) are easily trackable and personised, without special passport, even if we stop tracking cookies and use VPN. We all have an easily summarised habit and personal details, even without our equipment MAC number (which is unique, and is not from Macintosh). It is always on our metadata. I do not know if darknet removes it.I think at least Five Eyes have a constant bookkeeping of our messaging pattern, and probably Russia and China, to some extent too. Just the pattern, not the real content, except if you’re an “interesting person”.

    • avatar
      Craig

      Alexandru Voican that don’t mean the harebrained schemes haven’t been imported.

    • avatar
      Craig

      Eero Raunio Yes, but that can be limited and is predicated on implicit consent, you don’t have to use the internet or frequent certain sites. You can’t opt out of the government. Just because it’s been happening doesn’t mean it need continue and we certainly don’t need to let it be institutionalized by bureaucrats… (FYI you can change your MAC address)

    • avatar
      Christopher

      Craig Costa but they already have you, with their money. Plastic does it all.

    • avatar
      Craig

      Christopher Wager yeah but cash is still king for the Germans. Comparatively they tend to shun the plastic more than other Europeans. Also they aren’t as submissive as us Americans when it comes to giving up their privacy.

  3. avatar
    Eero

    Absolutely no. I know that my equipment can even now ID’d by it’s MAC number and summarily placed on map, but the whole idea of permanent ID is against even European data protect laws. We should put trust into password organisers — or good bookkeeping, as I do. We still have Ingocnito windows on our browsers, do we?I don’t have an iota of trust to officials, with too wide authorities.

    • avatar
      Eero

      I am an early user (and a designer) of a talk website with real user names, and I had nothing against exposing my name with my opinions. But only members would see it. And it was up to me to join.I think it makes better web usage and manners to write with user’s own name, but it should not be compulsory in everywhere. Even Facebook does not enforce it.

  4. avatar
    Jakub

    This sounds like something taken from 1984 or communist playbook.

  5. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    I agree with the Swiss!

    ……“mass public surveillance during the 20th century, citing negative past experiences of IT failures, function creep, and political history of oppression”…. would decide my choice rather not to trust the EU’s political intentions and marketed economic advantages.

    • As we know by now, the “step-by-step” approach by the EU echelon to eventually create one unitary EU state is exactly such a small step in that direction.

    • The how to “boil a frog” (alive) fable is no secrete. It is mischievously applied around the world.

    https://www.timhebert.com/how-to-boil-a-frog-the-slow-erosion-of-our-values/

    • Such a move would only be a bonus for hackers, bureaucrats, shady politicians & unsuspecting frogs allowing the Suzerain access to ~450 Mio ids at the push of a PC button. National ids act like a firewall.

    Since no mention was made that such a grand idea would be an attempt to introduce online EU-wide elections & referenda- I say thank you very much for your concern- but- NO thank you!

    Mrs. President von der Leyen, EU/FoE/DE please come up with more convincing arguments!

  6. avatar
    Yvonne

    em..it sounds like a great idea..but how easy would it be to hack it? and what might it be used for?and how would you get everyone to sign up? would it work like our PPS number here in Ireland..

  7. avatar
    George

    Sounds like EU is trying to become China 2.0

  8. avatar
    Yvonne ONeill

    I like the idea of an EU E-ID….it could be possible to work from country to country within the EU and pay taxes in each state as necessary ,but when it comes to retirement age all your info is recorded and its should be much easier to retrieve your tax info and claim your pension..an EU pension.I also think it would make registration for Tax a better idea ..if only for this reason..anyway i’m sure there are lots of ideas on this.I would worry about identity theft..and i also think the system must be a very easy one so if you’re older and the understanding is not great ..it should be a very easy to use system..anyway i would love to hear more about this please and thanks ..greetings from Ireland :D

  9. avatar
    Julia

    It sounds great in theory, however it also sounds like a hackers dream to me. It would be much easier to have a browser setting for GDPR permissions. Additionally individual passwords are way more secure than one password. Once there was a password leak and I had ten passwords the same where I was informed I had to change because they were compromised. I think security in technology is currently not strong enough for these amazing ideas. Also, this online account deleting by big-tech social media has set a precedence for having online accounts punished or deleted and this is a real danger for an EU digital ID.

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