Government explores alternatives for electronic identification of citizens

Ministry of Finance 28.8.2018 13.30 | Published in English on 29.8.2018 at 11.18
Press release
Government explores alternatives for electronic identification of citizens

The Ministry of Finance has asked the Population Register Centre to investigate whether the principles of strong identification of citizens are in need of reform. The investigation focuses on finding the most practical ways of implementing electronic identification for the public administration’s online services. At present, identification is based on online banking credentials, Mobile ID or an identity card.

Reliance on private sector identification methods, particularly online banking credentials, has so far been a fairly functional and practical solution in Finland. There would have to be very good reasons to replace this familiar and popular solution with something else. On the other hand, the public sector must fight rising costs. For this reason, we are now exploring our options for the future. One alternative is to introduce a dedicated public sector identification tool, says Anu Vehviläinen, Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms, who is responsible for the digitalisation of public services.

The investigation is taking place because some of the identification solutions currently in use are outdated and do not support the new digital ways of using public services. At the same time, it is important to ensure that future identification solutions are as accessible and easy to use as possible. The cost of outsourcing strong identification services has risen too high for the State.

 It's great that with digitalisation, online public services have rapidly gained popularity. Some of the identification solutions currently in use date back to the days when mobile devices and apps, for example, were in their infancy. Current and future identification solutions should be available and accessible to the whole population and support new processes and new ways of using public services. Therefore, it is important to find out what kind of model we should choose for strong identification for e-services in the future, says Kimmo Mäkinen, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Finance.

Identification tool for foreigners as well

As part of a wider study, it will also be investigated how we could include in our electronic identification tools an identification method suitable for the identification of foreigners, especially those coming from countries outside the scope of the European Union’s eIDAS Regulation. This includes, among others, persons who do not have a Finnish personal identification number.

Over the years, the technologies of identification have become more diversified and there are now more options to choose from.

- In contrast to the traditional identification approach in which it is always the user’s identity that is authenticated, some public services may only need to know whether the user is an adult or not, explains Janne Viskari, Director General at the Population Register Centre.

Decisions in 2019

The study is due to be completed in January 2019. The decisions about the new identification approach will be made after that. The alternatives could be, for example, to acquire a market-based solution from a commercial operator or to develop a dedicated public sector identification solution.

Identification means in 2019

In its press release in June, the Population Register Centre said that identification for public services will undergo reforms in 2019. The tenders carried out so far have shown that the prices of several operators that provide identification services have proved to be too costly for the State. As far as identification based on online banking credentials is concerned, only Osuuspankki and Nordea Bank made offers that were economically acceptable.

In parallel with the study, the Population Register Centre has entered into further negotiations with banks to explore the economic criteria for using the online banking credentials for public sector identification in the future. If no agreement is reached with some of the banks, it is possible that from 1 January 2019 the online banking credentials of the banks concerned cannot be used for identification in public administration services. 

From the beginning of 2019, the identification means that are known to work include:

  • The online banking credentials of Osuuspankki and Nordea;
  • The Mobile ID, available from major telecommunications service providers (Telia, Elisa, DNA);
  • An identity card issued by the police (requires, in addition to the card itself, a reader and associated software).

Inquiries

Ministry of Finance: Kimmo Mäkinen, Senior Specialist, tel. 0295 530 930, firstname.lastname[at]vm.fi

Population Register Centre: Janne Viskari, Director General, tel. 0295 535 022, firstname.lastname[at]vrk.fi

Ministry of Finance: Tuomas Vanhanen, Special Adviser to Anu Vehviläinen, Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms, tel. 046 923 3634, tuomas.vanhanen[at]vm.fi