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Efficient, broad-based solution for a Swiss digital ID

Communication dated 21.11.2017

The people of this country should have a simple, secure and unambiguous way of verifying the identity of whoever they are dealing with in the digital world. Some of Switzerland’s leading companies have decided to work together to create a trusted Swiss brand for E-ID, laying the foundations for a solution made by the private sector, but certified by the state. These companies are Swiss Post, SBB, Swisscom, Credit Suisse, Raiffeisen, UBS, Zürcher Kantonalbank, financial services provider SIX and Schweizerische Mobiliar.

They have all signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint company that will create and implement a digital ID for the people of Switzerland. This new company, SwissSign Group AG, will integrate the activities of existing firm SwissSign AG from January 2018, and continue to develop the “SwissID” solution. Its aim is to make digital IDs more efficient, more user-friendly and simpler, and to promote their use nationally and internationally. This division of responsibility between government and the private sector accords with the Federal Council’s intentions as set out in the draft Federal Law on Electronic Identification Services.

A “SwissID” will allow Swiss people to navigate safely and securely through an increasingly digital world and to use online services more easily. Data protection is the highest priority: control over the way the data is utilized will always rest with the user, and data protection will be guaranteed at all times.

In Switzerland, people can currently prove their identity with a passport, identity card or driver’s license; but these forms of proof are very cumbersome for internet transactions. Hence the need for an electronic proof of identity that allows websites, for example, to identify and authenticate an electronic ID holder unambiguously.

The joint company being announced today will develop an open, non-discriminatory ID system that fully complies with all data protection rules, and that safeguards the privacy of every individual. The founding partners of SwissSign Group AG are a broad-based con- sortium of sponsor firms, which between them already count much of the Swiss population as their customers. In addition to a total of approximately 6 million users, the partners bring their own existing verification methods to the process of developing a new system. Similar partnership models have already been used in, for example, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Joint company to develop an open, transparent system

With the SwissID solution, Swiss Post and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) are bringing the activities they pursue through SwissSign AG into the new company. They will hold an ownership stake in this company alongside Swisscom, UBS, Credit Suisse, Raiffeisen, Zürcher Kantonalbank, financial service provider SIX and Schweizerische Mobiliar. The new company’s management team will be made up of the managers of SwissSign AG. Markus Naef has been appointed CEO.

The new company will continue to develop the existing SwissID solution. It will uphold the acknowledged standards for digital IDs, ensure cross-border interoperability between dif- ferent E-ID systems and be non-discriminatory, open and transparent in its dealings with new partners, users and other technologies.

No cost for the user, data protection is central

For private individuals, use of the digital ID will be simple, secure and free of charge. The company will be financed through a compensation model funded primarily by online service providers. The current system is expensive because almost every individual provider has its own identification process. Online commercial and administrative processes can be structured and executed much more efficiently if there is a single, widely accepted, widely usable digital identification solution. The organizations involved believe that the new model will not only meet user needs, but will also make online transactions much simpler and cheaper for every business involved in online commerce.

Protecting customer data is central: control of personal data remains exclusively with the user, and data protection will be maintained in full. Discussions with the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) were started at an early stage. He regards the project as a high priority and welcomes the fact that SwissSign will provide his agency with a single point of contact.

Government plays an important role

The state continues to play a central role in the implementation of digital IDs in accordance with the E-ID Law. The federal government sets the legislative framework, as well as certifying and monitoring the E-ID system; and the government alone can define and verify state IDs. In addition, as major service providers the federal government, cantons and municipalities help encourage the use of digital IDs.

Media contacts:

German-speaking Switzerland:
Dr. Victor Schmid, 079 350 05 37, victor.schmid@konsulenten.ch
Dr. Matthias Knill, 079 218 16 30, matthias.knill@konsulenten.ch

Western Switzerland and Ticino:
Marie-Hélène Hancock, 079 204 21 22, marie-helene.hancock@konsulenten.ch