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Digital ID coming to Finland, Germany, and Mexico


digital identity biometric registration

Finland, Germany, and Mexico are each continuing to digitize their population management to join the growing global movement towards having a national digital identity. The common driving force behind each of these accelerated measures appears to be the need for safe and contactless authentication means amid the ongoing COVID pandemic. In addition to this, these measures are also promised to expand access to vital government services and benefits to previously undocumented population segments.

Finland to introduce digital ID by 2023

The Finnish government will be adding a digital ID option to supplement its passport requirements by 2023, reports VerietyInfo. The move will help assist around one million Finnish citizens who do not own a valid form of identification, many of them being minors. According to the report the nation has also seen a decrease in child passports and certificates.

Authorities attribute the decline in passport and ID applications to the ongoing pandemic. Within one year, passport and ID ownership in Finland has fallen from 4.35 million to 4.18. “Traditionally, the Finns update these documents very quickly. The [COVID] period had a significant impact on this,” said the Police Department Inspector General Juhani Rouuta.

Despite this temporary decline, Finland is expecting passport applications to spike again once travel picks up again post-COVID. The Finnish digital ID will not only supplement passports, which are still required for travel but also help individuals authenticate themselves with more ease for business and other digital transactions.

According to Information Management Advisor Maria Nikkilä, the new digital ID will be easy-to-use for individuals who have difficulties in acquiring and using mobile devices and other digital means. “The idea is also that in addition to the mobile application, an alternative device will be offered, such as a pen that can be connected to a computer,” says Nikkilä. “So, owning a phone won’t be a mandatory requirement.”

Whether or not Finland will adopt a digital ID for international travel remains to be seen. “International research is being conducted on the possibility of a digital travel document. It has long-term goals worldwide. In a few years, it will probably be possible in a certain area, such as Europe,” Rouuta added. This year, the country will be adding fingerprint biometrics to its identity cards, following new EU regulations.

Germany to allow digital ID stored on mobile devices, provide government data

The German government, in two new rulings, will allow German citizens to use their mobile devices to verify their identity and open access to government-generated data reports the Associated Press. According to the German Interior Ministry, individuals can start using an electronic version of their government ID stored on their mobile devices starting fall 2021. The ID is used with a PIN to verify and authenticate users for government and business transactions.

The move will allow Germany to overhaul its existing authentication systems that still require physical cards and reading devices. In a separate ruling, the German government announced that businesses and individuals may soon have open access to government-generated data to incubate new application development.

Mexico to introduce digital ID card

Mexico is inching closer to a national digital ID thanks to the recently passed General Law on Population, reports the Mazatlan Post. The overhaul will work in tandem with the new General Law of Identity and Digital Citizen law to provide the previously undocumented segment of Mexico’s population to have access to vital government services and benefits. In addition to these benefits, the new policy is also aimed at boosting the Central American nation’s COVID vaccination efforts.

The new laws provide for the creation of a digital identity alongside a population register containing biometric information. This new form of population identification will help register previously undocumented individuals, the majority being under the age of 10. Additionally, the measure also focuses on better serving minority groups such as Mexico’s indigenous, and Afro-Mexican populations.

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