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The Population Register Centre delivered a report on the alternatives for citizens’ electronic identification to Ministry of Finance on 8 March 2019
The Population Register Centre’s report highlights new solutions for improving the accessibility and coverage of electronic identification

8.3.2019 10.00
Press release

In its report, the Population Register Centre states that current forms of electronic identification do not serve public administration’s all customer groups. The report proposes that the state would produce a new identification method functioning as a smartphone application. The citizens could use this method to identify themselves to access public administration services, as well as in initial electronic identification.

According to the report, electronic identification needs updating also because the costs of identification are increasing too high for the state, as online transactions become more popular and the intensity of use grows. The report also outlines how new identification solutions could promote the development of new types of digital services, and the citizens’ rights to manage their own information.

The state has to ensure different groups’ equal rights to digital transactions

More attention has to be paid to equality between citizens, following the increased use of electronic services. The Population Register Centre proposes that an easy-to-use, free and safe method of identification to public services should be ensured for all citizens.

Special attention should be paid to developing the identification service’s accessibility. Officials also have to make sure that public administration services are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.

Moreover, several electronic services of public administration do not currently reach persons under the age of 18, Finnish people domiciled abroad, immigrants and foreigners dealing with Finnish officials. Important services for minors include, for instance, accessing their own health and study records.

Immigrants and foreigners dealing with Finnish officials may lack an identification method required for electronic identification, as they do not have a Finnish personal identity code. Finnish people domiciled abroad may also lack a Finnish identification method to access the services, even if they have a Finnish personal identity code.

Basic digital infrastructure could be offered by the state: citizens’ initial electronic identification and an identification method 

In its report, the Population Register Centre proposes that the state produces citizens’ initial electronic identification as a free basic service as part of society’s digital basic infrastructure. Citizens’ initial electronic identification will be reliable, if they use the new electronic identification method. In the interviews conducted for the report, several respondents recognised a need for this service. The state’s role as a provider of initial identification would promote the use of strong electronic identification more widely than simply in the services of public administration.

The police’s licence services would continue to form the foundations of the initial identification network. The report points out that, in the future, citizens could receive an electronic identification method simultaneously when an identity card is issued. The electronic identification method provided by the state would primarily be a smartphone application. Its alternative would be a USB identification device. The Citizen Certificate stored on the identity card would no longer be valid.

Holders of a valid passport or an identity card could receive the new electronic identification method automatically, without a separate visit to a service point.

Free initial identification provided by the state would also facilitate the use of electronic services in the private sector. “Citizens could be reliably identified online without having to ask them to visit the service provider’s office for identification purposes at the beginning of a customer relationship”, says Director General of the Population Register Centre Janne Viskari.

According to the Population Register Centre, one long-term solution could be ‘the citizen’s identity wallet’, which would enable citizens to control what information they want to provide for different services. In addition to personal identification, it would include different types of authentication information and licences, such as a driving licence and firearm licences and permits.

The Population Register Centre’s report mapped out alternatives for citizens’ strong electronic identification

In August 2018, the Ministry of Finance asked the Population Register Centre to explore whether the principles of citizens’ strong electronic identification needed updating. The report mapped out different alternatives on how to organise identification to the electronic services of public administration in the most appropriate way.

At the same time, the objective was to ensure that the identification solutions in use in the future are as accessible and easy-to-use as possible for all users.

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and Traficom have expressed dissenting opinions on the proposals presented in the Population Register Centre’s report.

Director General of the Population Register Centre Janne Viskari delivered the report to Ministetry of Finance on 8 March 2019. Electronic identification: Report on the current situation, development needs and alternatives has been published in the publications of the Ministry of Finance: 2019:20.