As a practical example of the federal government’s e-governance strategy in Switzerland, I chose the Blockchain-based digital ID solution from the Canton of Zug. After a successful test phase, all residents have the opportunity to register on the uPort app and upload their data there. Only the owner of his account can manage his own identity data and allow or deny access to it. Without consent, the data remains encrypted on the user’s mobile phone.
The big advantage of this digital ID solution is the fact that the information is encrypted by the uPort application and stored on the Ethereum blockchain. There are many other similar digital ID solutions, but in the other solutions the personal data is mostly stored on central servers. The city of Zug does not want to take this risk and places the users in the centre.
The following illustration shows how easy it is to register on the uPort App.
The digital identity allows residents of the city of Zug easier access to electronic services. Examples of such services, which are still in the development phase, are a block-chain-based bicycle rental system, a parking management system or the lending of books from the library.
Benefits and efficiency
On June 24, 2018, the first blockchain-based test tuning with the digital ID was performed in Switzerland. Although only a few people took part in this survey, the test tuning was successful. Many of the participants would like to be able to submit their taxes using a digital ID.
The digital identity consists of three elements. The first is a digital locker. This locker is located on the mobile phone in the uPort App and is secured either with a pin or a fingerprint sensor. The digital identity is then stored in the uPort app.
In a second step, the uPort App creates a unique immutable address on the Ethereum blockchain and links it to the locker on the mobile phone.
The third element of the digital identity is the certification portal. After registration on the website and the app, residents have two weeks to register with the residents’ registration office so that their entries can be checked. A passport or identity card must be brought along for verification. The residents’ registration office signs these entries with your own cryptographic key. This certificate will then also be saved on the uPort App.
The efficiency of this solution is evident in the long term, as many services where users have to prove their identity can be carried out more cost-effectively and quickly.
III. Innovation and promotion of the community
One of the goals of e-government is to create added value for the population, the economy and public authorities. The Institute for Financial Services Zug (IFZ) of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the companies Consensys uPort (Zug), ti&m (Zurich) and the IT department of the city of Zug were involved in the development of the ‘Blockchain-based digital ID for all’ project.
Blockchain is still a young technology that can optimise many processes. Introducing new technologies is already a difficult matter. The experience and innovation that such a project brings is an achievement not only for the whole of Switzerland, but also for other countries that want to carry out similar projects.
Sustainability is at the forefront of digital identity. Residents only have to complete the registration process once with the app and the municipality. The digital identity can then be easily integrated into many projects. This promotes the multiple use of this solution.
The future of the state’s e-governance strategy with regard to digital identity has great potential for Switzerland. Numerous services can be used much more efficiently and will become more transparent and secure. This means that the state can use its resources in this respect for more important tasks. If repetitive processes can be automated, then manpower will be used in many industries for interesting and innovative tasks. A good example of this is the long process for evaluating ballot papers. If a future vote can only be carried out electronically, then this is not only safer but also more efficient.
Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga already announced the Swiss government’s plans for a national digital ID in 2017. It seems definite that the issuance of a state ID should lie with state-recognised private providers, so-called identity service providers.
In the near future, various existing digital IDs such as SwissID or SwissPass will be available to Swiss citizens with a single Swiss digital identity.
Eine staatlich anerkannte digitale Identität: Bundesrat … – Admin.ch.” 15 Nov. 2017, https://www.admin.ch/gov/de/start/dokumentation/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-68816.html. Besucht am 7 Sep. 2018.
(2017, November 15). Zug Online: News: Blockchain-basierte digitale ID für alle … – Stadt Zug. Retrieved September 7, 2018, from http://www.stadtzug.ch/de/ueberzug/ueberzugrubrik/aktuelles/aktuellesinformationen/?action=showinfo&info_id=431448