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Self-sovereign identity – is it feasible?

Self-sovereignty with respect to digital identity, and the desire for individuals to have genuine control over their data is a very interesting subject. In my eyes, this is a monumental challenge, one that I fear isn’t even realistic at the moment, though that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying. Part of me sees it as idealistic; something that would be great to have, but might never be achievable due to laws and regulations requiring certain ways of working in order to protect those involved. I also find, that depending on who I speak to, there are different beliefs and guiding principles surround self-sovereignty, some stricter than others, and I find it will likely be a case, that we will never be able to please all of the people, all of the time.

Modernising the Estonian Tax and Customs Systems

The development of the ETCB information system started in the nineties. The systems still contain important parts that were developed back then and are based on the 20 year old technology. Over the years, the system has grown in an evolutionary way – there is more than one hundred different sub-systems supporting various business processes. Those systems have been built over the course of last 20 years, using different technologies, following different user interface guidelines and designs and different philosophies. The situation was complicated further by the merger of Estonian Tax Board and Estonian Customs Board in mid-2000 when their technologically disparate systems were also merged. The system was really heterogeneous in many ways, but at the same time contained big monolithic blocks of critical functionality that were implemented on the decades-old technology.

Unique Identifiers and Digital Identity

For digital societies to function, personal identifiers are useful, if not unavoidable. Quite an array of public services rests on the premise of identitfication and authentication of the citizens – the quality of that process determines the quality of the services, in many cases. According to the World Atlas, there are currently 195 countries in the World. According to the data we have collected from the official sources and related Wikipedia articles, half of the countries have already implemented a kind of unique identifier for their citizens, residents, visitors or (why not the) e-residents. The names for the identifiers vary – depending on the country this attribute can be called Personal Identification Number or Citizen Number or Resident Registration Number or just Taxation ID. What will follow, is a short overview of the essence of personal identifiers and also the history of introducing these.