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Swedish government launches inquiry to provide more secure, national digital ID

Swedish government launches inquiry to provide more secure, national digital ID

Sweden’s government has appointed an inquiry into increasing the security of the country’s online identity options, by developing an additional, government-issued digital ID to accompany the existing bank-led BankID and the privately-provided FrejaID, reports The Local. The inquiry will also examine digital exclusion in the highly-digitized country.

“A special investigator must investigate and submit proposals on how the state can issue an e-identification at the highest level of trust. The investigator must also review the need for adaptations resulting from the revised eIDAS regulation,” states the text of the inquiry.

“The purpose is to strengthen society’s security and robustness, to counter fraud committed with the help of e-identifications and to make it easier for as many people as possible to gain access to an e-identification.”

The first report on costs and financing is expected in October 2023 and the final report in May 2024. It does not mention foreigners struggling to acquire digital ID, though others have. More on that issue below.

A month ago, the Swedish government’s special investigator Anna Kinberg Batra published an argument stating that attaining higher security levels for digital ID was a “core government task.” She said that a few banks and companies control “socially important information.” The Freja CEO said the issue was that too few places accepted the exiting IDs.

The Local quotes Erik Slottner, Sweden’s Civil Affairs minister in an interview with the TT newswire: “It’s obvious that the state should take command and take over control for guaranteeing safe identification. You can compare it with a passport or driving license, both of which are today state responsibilities. I think everyone sees that as fairly self-evident.”

Rather than a government scheme, Swedes assert their identity digitally via e-Legitimation across the highly successful and widely-used BankID, Freja and Svenska Pass.

Slottner looks ahead to future developments such as a pan-European mobile payments system (such as Sweden’s Swish) that would require all European states to have the highest identity security.

He refers to “level 4” which appears to be the Swedish identity framework’s own measure of security levels, as the EU’s eIDAS only has three levels of assurance: low, substantial and high.

A list of EU countries’ progress towards eIDAS interoperable identity shows Sweden’s options as substantial and high. The eIDAS opinion provides further detail that BankID and FrejaID+ provide substantial level of assurance and EFOS (E-identitet för offentlig sektor, for employees of certain government agencies) reaches the high level. The third digital identity option, AB Svenska Pass, has not been submitted.

Slottner said the new government supports the previous government’s efforts to develop a state digital ID and stated that the new ID would not replace BankID and Freja, but be “rather something that completes the digital ID which exists today.”

Inclusion, especially for foreigners

“As many people as possible, ideally everyone in Sweden, should be able to have electronic identification,” Slottner told TT.

The Local pursued this line for another report as many foreigners living in Sweden, including Ukrainian refugees, are not eligible for an ID number and are also unable to get a BankID or Freja Plus. This prevents access to government services and e-commerce.

The text of the inquiry has very little detail on increasing inclusion.

“The inquiry will…, amongst other things, investigate and suggest how as many people as possible can gain access to a secure e-identification,” Slottner told The Local in an email. “This also includes individuals from other countries who are residing in Sweden temporarily, such as when studying or working here.”

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