Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper)The eID is one step closer to its future EU users. It is definitely far more than a digital replacement for the plastic cards we all carry around in our wallets. It will lower the administrative burden and make countless processes more efficient not only for the users but also for public administrations and private businesses such as banks or insurance providers. From buying alcohol in the supermarket to creating a bank account in another EU member state – the new eID will help you with all that. The Pirates have done their best to ensure the system will be as safe as possible and use open-source software.
Countless advantages thanks to one app
If we ever want to start taking our move towards the digital decade seriously, introducing the e-ID is definitely one of the key steps. Most importantly, however, the e-ID is hugely advantageous for us as users. The app will do anywhere you now need to use your ID card – at airport check-ins, car hires, and loan applications. Most importantly, all public institutions will be connected to the e-ID, which will have a positive effect on any administrative errands. You will no longer need to prove your permanent address or provide your birth certificate – public authorities will verify everything on their own, with your prior consent, of course.
At the same time, it will be possible to access only some data when needed, like age. So if – especially younger – customers want to buy alcoholic drinks at a bar or in a shop, they only need to show their age without needing to display their names or ID numbers. Another major advantage will be the option to interconnect the eID with medical certificates, like vaccination proofs or prescriptions that will work anywhere in the EU.
National ID with EU-wide uses
Although the app will be unified across the EU, it definitely isn’t an “EU ID”. The data on the ID will stay the same, but the unified format will make it possible to use it in any of the European Union’s state institutions. If, for example, you work abroad and pay taxes there or you want to start a bank account in another state, the eID will spare you the administrative errands of proving your identity.
Digital, but definitely not mandatory!
The common ID app will save users time and worry – and not only them! State institutions and private companies will also benefit. It will make administration much easier and more efficient, which is likely to make everyone happy. However, if anyone decides to keep the traditional “plastic card” for any reason, they will not be disadvantaged. That is one of the things we also worked on as the Pirates. Although the eID brings many benefits, it definitely cannot cause any discrimination in service accessibility. It will be entirely voluntary and up to the free choice of every EU citizen.
Personal data protection incomparable to the current card
The eID proposal has just gone through the Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy, and we managed to add several major rules making the app safer through amendments. The original proposal wanted a central storage of the user’s transaction history, managed by the app operator. However, the vast concentration of extremely sensitive personal data would not make this the most secure solution. We managed to make sure that this data would be stored in the user’s personal devices, with the operator only storing the data necessary for its functioning.
Thanks to the Pirates, the whole system will also be based on the open-source principle, ensuring greater transparency and security and facilitating regular updates. Users will always have to provide informed consent for any personal data sharing. We managed to ensure that the app will be as transparent and secure as possible – naturally, after consulting it with leading digital security experts.
An app fit for the 21st century
Personally, I am extremely grateful that the eID app will soon be accessible to all EU citizens. Now, the proposal has to be voted on by the European Parliament plenary, and then it has to pass through the Council. It will therefore take some time before we can download the app, but nothing should be in the way of the proposal’s adoption. After all, the Czech Republic has already been using the citizen e-identity, a sort of demo or predecessor of the eID app. Many citizens have already been using it from the comfort of their smartphones. Estonia, which is leading the EU in digitalizing public administration, has been using digital identification for 20 years. Incredible! That is why doing and paying your taxes only takes 3 minutes for an average Estonian. Soon, this may be the reality for us and all of the EU.