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EU countries must provide sophisticated, national versions of digital identity wallet

EU countries must provide sophisticated, national versions of digital identity wallet

European citizens will have the choice of a nationally-provided digital identity wallet for pan EU use, rather than simply commercially-provided products, after a vote on the proposed update of the European Digital Identity Framework at the Industry, Research and Energy Committee was won by a large margin, reports the European Parliament new service.

The changes also mean anyone not wanting to use a digital ID wallet at all cannot be treated differently.

At present, people have to rely on digital wallets provided by the private sector, typically linked to payment systems, which has raised security and privacy concerns. National wallets are expected to give users better control over their data.

Other amendments to the framework ensure the digital identity wallets will be able to read and verify electronic documents and execute peer-to-peer interactions. The system must also register all transactions to ensure third parties can be held accountable.

“The Digital Wallet will become a reliable, all-in-one identity gateway that puts citizens in full control of their own data and gives them the freedom to decide exactly what information to share, with whom, and when,” says the committee’s rapporteur, Croatian MEP Romana Jerković.

“From social, financial, medical and professional data, to contacts and much more, it will make it possible to store personal credentials within a single digital ID. Digital identity is no longer just a nice-to-have feature, but a new driver of civic engagement and social empowerment and a tool for an inclusive digital Europe.”

Pirate Party MEPs in the committee say they helped make sure the wallets will be open source and to remove the unique personal identifier, but were unable to prevent the mandatory acceptance of government browser certificates, although there will be exceptions, according to a release from the party.

“The European digital identity is cornerstone for modernization and digitization of the European economy and public services. Unfortunately, the European Commission had put a lot of problematic things in the proposal that inflated it with utter nonsense,” comments Pirate Party MEP Mikuláš Peksa, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur to the ITRE Committee.

“Together with others, we Pirates have succeeded in removing most of these problems, such as a compulsory unique identification number. This is a big win for European citizens. We are sending a smart and safer instrument to the next negotiation.”

These changes are to draft legislation. The whole digital wallet project is proving to be something of a movable feast. Four consortia have been awarded various large-scale pilots to start testing use cases. Meanwhile the legislation and reference frameworks are still very much under development, as the timeline continues to slide.

The committee MEPs also voted to enter the next round: interinstitutional negotiations. These could be finalized as soon as mid-March. The trilogue negotiations (Parliament, Council, Commission) will be ongoing.

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