A digital or electronic identity is a data object in an IT system that represents a person, an organisation or even machines and things. For example, customer databases or even simple Excel spreadsheets can contain digital identities.
In a narrow sense, one speaks of a digital identity if an authentication (login) is linked to it. A digital identity has a unique identifier and usually a set of attributes that describe the so-called subject (i.e. the person, organisation or thing).
Examples of digital identities in the narrow sense are the Switch eduID, a Google account or an e-banking account.
Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)
The term “Self-Sovereign Identity” refers to concepts and principles in which individuals or organisations can create and manage their own digital identities and thus retain control over their data. SSIs are also referred to as “decentralised” identities, as there is no need for central components (e.g. identity providers or intermediaries). Typically, a user stores his identities, which consist of a unique identifier (decentralised identifier, DID) and a key pair with a secret/public key and are mostly anchored in a blockchain, in a wallet. At an issuer, the user can have his initially self-declared data confirmed in the form of verifiable credentials. The user can then show these credentials to a verifier if necessary, e.g. to gain access to a website or other resources.
Federated learning describes a new form of machine learning in which the training data remain on different nodes in a network and are not exchanged. This allows models to be trained on data that should remain confidential.
Ethics by design
Digitalisation increasingly leads to questions of responsibility. At the societal level, the questions arise: Who is to blame if a computer programme makes wrong decisions – be it in an individual case when controlling a device, or systemically in the form of discrimination when making decisions about people. What must those responsible do to prevent such wrong decisions? Where is the use of technology legitimate for us as a society, and where are the limits? The use of technical means that systemically limit wrong decisions and at the same time create transparency about those responsible is called “ethics by design”.
NRP 75 Big Data
The National Research Programme “Big Data” (NRP 75) aims to provide the scientific basis for the effective and appropriate use of big data. The research projects examine questions of information technology and its social impact and address concrete applications. Budget: CHF 25 million. 172 project outlines were submitted.
NRP 77 Digital Transformation
The National Research Programme “Digital Transformation” (NRP 77) aims to investigate the interrelationships as well as the concrete effects of the digital transformation in Switzerland. The three focal points of the programme are education and learning, ethics, trustworthiness and governance, and the economy and labour market.
NRP 80 Covid-19 in Society
The National Research Programme (NRP) 80 “Covid-19 in Society” aims to analyse social processes during the Covid-19 pandemic from the perspective of the social sciences and humanities. In doing so, it will also investigate which factors are determinant for coping with a pandemic. The results should show the authorities, politicians and affected private and public institutions ways of coping with pandemics. NRP 80 complements NRP 78 “Covid-19”, which was launched in 2020 and investigates biomedical and clinical issues. The research programme was launched by the Federal Council on 28 April 2021, will last three years and is endowed with CHF 14 million.
Electronic proof of identity
How can I credibly prove who I am online? How can I credibly prove my qualifications online? How can I conclude contracts online? … All these questions have cum grano salis a partial answer in common: It doesn’t take much in harmless cases, usually just financial risk management such as a credit card guarantee, and it takes a mandatory state-issued electronic identity in critical cases. The Swiss Federal Council relies on systems developed by the market. The state should concentrate on defining the legal framework and providing identity data.
To put it very simply, this is the most liberal solution under the circumstances. The argument against it is that business can only be done with eIDs when there are many owners and many possible uses – and this is not currently in sight in Switzerland. The few good practices abroad went other ways, but of course someone always has to be the first.
More information to follow soon
NIS 2.0 – European Directive on Network and Information Security
More information coming soon
eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government (JeDEM)
The Open Access journal JeDEM is owned and published by the Department for E-Governance and Administration, Danube University Krems, Austria. JeDEM is a platinum/diamond scholarly-led Open Access e-journal managed by an interdisciplinary team of scholars at the Department for E-Governance and Administration at Danube University.
It provides a platform for all those interested in discussing possibilities, issues and challenges that societies face today regarding digitalization. Its inception was stimulated by the extremely fast development of information and communication technologies, data and information sharing policies and their use, which rapidly change and mutually influence society, governance and policies.
JeDEM promotes contributions made to the emerging science of the information age following the highest standards of peer review. JeDEM welcomes submissions related to areas such as e-democracy, e-society, e-participation, e-government, open data, data sharing and use, open science, open access and open source.
Contact Managing Editor: Dr. Noella Edelmann firstname.lastname@example.org