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Swiss e-ID resists rushing trust infrastructure

Swiss e-ID resists rushing trust infrastructure
 

Switzerland is debating on how to proceed with the technical implementation of its national digital identity as the 2026 deadline for its launch approaches. The main tasks are developing the US$113.3 million electronic identity (e-ID) and creating the trust infrastructure necessary for its operation. The European nation, however, is still deliberating on the best way to proceed despite growing impatience among e-ID stakeholders.

In January, the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) concluded an informal consultation on selecting the technology for the trust infrastructure. The decision, however, has not been taken yet, FDJP head Beat Jans explained at the Digital Identity unConference Europe last week.

The informal consultation drew nearly 100 opinions. According to the results, there is a clear demand for a high level of privacy protection and the possibility of using the e-ID abroad. To meet both requirements, the e-ID trust infrastructure will have to support different technologies.

“Due to the fact, that there is no single technology that satisfies all needs, I assume that our trust infrastructure must accommodate in parallel more than one technology,” Jans says.

The department is expected to submit a concrete proposal to the Federal Council by the end of the year. Meanwhile, a technical roadmap for the Swiss e-ID and trust infrastructure was published on GitHub.

According to the document, two options are under consideration for the trust protocol, one from OpenID Federation and one which is a dedicated Swiss solution. The roadmap also outlines DID methods, VC formats, cryptography and communication protocols.

The main reason behind the Swiss hesitance to decide on the trust framework is financial, Jans said. A multi-stack approach might increase the costs in the short run but in the long run it will be more cost-effective than implementing technology which might become obsolete, he added.

“While I understand the frustration, that some of you might feel, I would like to ask you for some comprehension of our task as well,” Jans says.

His department is also taking into account the constant stream of new verifiable credentials and developments such as the European Union’s eIDAS 2.0 regulation which still lacks implementing acts. In addition, the government is still assessing the maturity of technical innovations such as parallel signatures, he said

Switzerland is currently in the process of creating a legal basis for the e-ID. The regulation has been approved by the National Council and is now being debated in the Council of States.

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