Digital identity, the key step to make digital governments a reality

* Article originally published in the Institute for Internet & the Just Society: https://www.internetjustsociety.org/digital-identity-for-digital-governments  

How to get governments to consider the possibility of digitizing processes and accelerating their digital transformation processes, not only through the application of new systems and processes, but starting by investing in initiatives and incentives that promote the digital identity of their member citizens.

In times of pandemic, digital transformation and governments that try to implement digital initiatives that improve their reach to citizens to improve government services and citizens' access to them, it is necessary to talk about the development of digital trust.

Trust in relationships is the value on which any modern society is based. That said, I will proceed to indicate that the official identity of citizens is the cornerstone of that trust. There is a direct correlation between this trust (analog in transition to digital) and the main democratic values, as well as between these values ​​and the national GDP and our way of life. The improvement of one percentage point in the ranking that qualifies the democratic values ​​developed by The Economist has a positive impact of 13,6% in our lives: 13.286 dollars in the increase in per capita income; 2.6 years of improvement in life expectancy and 2 positive points in the Inequality Coefficient[1].

In the last decade, technology has become the main value-generating industry, far surpassing the best such as the energy industry.

The digital wave is being largely underestimated by Europe; the region is the second largest economy in the world, representing 20% ​​of the total value generated, but with a representation of only 4% in the technology industry. The speed of transformation and the concentration of the economy are increasing: 56% of the main companies by valuation are technological[2].

Trust in relationships is the value on which any modern society is based. The official identity of citizens is the cornerstone of this trust and it is precisely in the development of this digital trust that governments should focus to carry out future initiatives aimed at the consolidation of digital governments.

More than half of the world's population lives today without an official identity. These populations belong precisely to the countries with the lowest per capita income, the human development index, the highest inequality and the lowest life expectancy. It's not by chance.

In developed regions like Europe[3] , Identity is the essential element that allows relationships between citizens, between them and the Government, and Institutions. At the same time, it offers the legal security and confidence that private businesses have. Identity has been fundamental to build our current way of life and the democratic values ​​that sustain our welfare state, which as citizens in solidarity and aware of the current context, try to expand globally to promote true international cooperation, not only at the European level.

Our lifestyle is based on this trust that an official identity offers. Let's think for a moment about the actions that we usually carry out: bank transfers, payment of housing rent, travel, visas, among many others that few governments and private sector companies -even in mutual collaboration- have digitized 100% and that I believe that they can and should be digitized and for all of them an act of identification is required.

There is a direct correlation between this trust and the main democratic values ​​and, furthermore, a directly proportional relationship of these democratic values ​​with the national GDP and our way of life: The Economist media produces an annual ranking that analyzes democracy in 167 states of the world, scoring and classifying them into categories ranging from full democracy to authoritarian rule. Bases your score on objective criteria of democratic values, such as: pluralism and the electoral process, civil liberties, government functioning, participation and political culture[4].

Let's talk then about digital identity

Digital identity[5] it is the electronic equivalent of the official analog identity, whose main instrument corresponds to the physical identity documents issued and managed by governments. Digital identity is made up of the characteristics (identifiers and attributes) of the person who provides it with a unique character among the population, or in a particular context, and is recognized by States for regulatory or other official purposes. This concept has already been recognized and developed in Europe by the eIDAS Regulation (910/2014), in force since July 2016[6].

The eIDAS allows citizens - regardless of the work to which they are engaged - to be able to use the so-called electronic fiduciary services, through a digital document, such as electronic certificates of companies. This Digital Identity allows electronic relationships of trust between citizens, companies and governments when identifying and legally demonstrating the will in agreements and contracts.

In my particular opinion, this new Digital Identity will complement for a time the analog identity to be used in the digital channel, but, eventually, it could replace it completely thanks to its ease of use in any channel, as long as the technological procedures and necessary security.

Digital identity will help citizens to access better services and that any process with governments and private companies is carried out efficiently and effectively with "few clicks". All this within channels and areas that have the necessary technology to guarantee legitimacy, security and legality.

Digital Identity is an essential tool for introducing citizen participation mechanisms at all levels. All this at the service of the real interests of citizens and to boost the productive economy of Spain.

The role of government and participation is essential in the evolution of democratic values ​​and the main difference in impact between full democracies and authoritarian regimes.

After all the shared ideas about identity and digital governments; I leave you with this question for you to reflect, do you think it is possible to generate a single digital identification document that helps us access all the services and procedures that we must perform?


[1]Democracy Index, The Economist Intelligence Unit.

[2] Digital Economy Report 2019, Value Creation and Capture: implications for developing countries, United Nations.

[3] White Paper Onboarding Digital, Fintech Ibero-America, September 2019.

[4] https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index

[5] Digital identification: A key to inclusive growth, April 2019.

[6] eIDAS - ultimate version


*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators of The Crypto Legal blog or the Lawgic Tec association.

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Karol valencia
She works as a Legal Project Leader and Legal Services Designer at eID and also works as a Service and Innovation Designer at Lawcus-LPM. He develops private consulting and focuses on projects and services with a holistic perspective through his Karol Valencia brand (worldwide and remotely) and is Head of the Community at Eye Z Legal (India). She is an active member of the Institute for Internet & The Just Society, also works in the #Barpocalypse project for the redesign of legal education in the US and is the ambassador in LATAM of ILSA (Innovative Law Studies Association). As a polyglot, you work on the translation of various technical documents, articles, books, articles and more when requested or simultaneously translated as an interpreter at events. She is a lawyer from the Universidad Católica San Pablo, with postgraduate studies at the PUCP, and has a law degree from the UEM in Madrid, Spain. With training in digital transformation, innovation, programming and design in "En Estado Beta", "Iron Hack" and "Interaction Design Foundation"; In a self-taught way, he participates in communities such as Legal Hackers Lima, PsychoLAWgy and others, in addition to different volunteer jobs. Former professor at the UPN. Facilitator and international speaker at Legal Design & Legal Tech. Activist on mental health issues. He currently collaborates with columns and blogs such as: The Crypto Legal, his Medium account, Idealex.press and Impact Lawyers. He believes in redesigning the legal system to achieve better access to justice for all. Contact: karol@karolvalencia.com

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