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DIDAS provides extensive commentary to the target vision for e-ID in Switzerland


October 13, 2021


Earlier this year a popular vote has rejected a proposed law on electronic identification ( results ).  It was however very clear that a new solution has to be found soon as e-ID can be an important enabler for multiple use-cases and accelerate digitalisation of many daily processes for both the individuals and organisations, if done correctly.

Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) has started a public consultation, which should inform Federal Council’s upcoming policy decision.  A discussion paper “on the target vision for an e-ID” has been published, which explores a number of different options and approaches to the future of electronic identity.  Self-Sovereign Identity  (SSI) has been highlighted as one of the possible options and a number of questions has been raised.

It was a great opportunity for DIDAS to provide in-depth commentary to the proposed vision and contribute our collective ideas and expertise to help make a well informed decision. Our submission (in German) is available here

So what did we advocate for?

For us, the members of DIDAS, it was crucial to emphasise that the upcoming policy decision will determine the future of digitalisation efforts in Switzerland and, consequently,  its position at  international level. The authors of the discussion paper have proposed 3 “levels of  ambition”:

  • e-ID ( secure identification option without media discontinuity  – e.g. identity card that can be used in the digital world  + login)
  • e-ID linked to other state-regulated proofs  ( basic electronic identify + cryptographically linked additional attributes – e.g. driver’s license, diploma, COVID certificate, criminal record, etc)
  • Ecosystem of digital proofs  ( e-ID is just one credential, other credentials that are independent of the e-ID are possible, government and private bodies can issue credentials  )

It’s very clear to us that only the Ecosystem of Digital Proofs (Level of Ambition 3) represents the actual ambition that is worth pursuing – creation of a true, future-proof and flexible foundation for digital Switzerland.  To create such an ecosystem it’s important to adopt the right approach ( principles, technology, governance model, etc) and  make sure that the government plays the appropriate role and enables rather than hinders the future growth and success of this ecosystem.

We have made strong argument in favour of focusing on adopting SSI principles and best practices as the foundation for Ambition Level 3.  We highlighted and outlined both the advantages that this will bring ,as well as the open questions that still need to be addressed. E.g. on technology and legislation level.  We know that SSI is not perfect yet, but we need to focus on the rapid progress that is being made ( as well as contribute to it) in order to create solid foundation that will last for years to come rather than make a short term decision in favour of something better understood but not designed for the ownership and privacy of the data, open ecosystems, transparent governance and flexibility.  We are fully convinced that given the timeframe to draft and implement the future legislation we have ample opportunity and time to get it right!

We further argued that the Government will play an important, enabling role for the ecosystem and by adopting SSI can safely focus on the attributes (or verified credentials) that it has historically been providing. Thus facilitating a smooth transition from a paper-based world to  a future, where verifiable data enables new levels of efficiency and flexibility without negatively affecting privacy for both the individuals and organisations.

We are looking forward to the future collaboration with relevant governmental agencies and policy makers that are engaged in decision making process. We’ll continue to explain and promote SSI. Many of our members already implement solutions using SSI principals and technology stack – we happy to provide this expertise to help build the true digital foundation for the future of Swiss Confederation.