The IDunion project commencing 1 April 2021 is the first of a total of four projects selected by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of its “Secure Digital Identities” showcase program. The project consortium consisting of 28 partners from science, industry, administration and finance will develop a platform for checking digital identities. TU Berlin will receive 1.6 million euros of the project’s total funding of approximately 15 million euros.
As digitalization progresses, electronic identification (eID) is becoming increasingly important, both when dealing with public authorities and when making purchases. User-friendly applications are an important pre-condition of digital sovereignty. The IDunion project will establish an infrastructure for verifying ID data or self sovereign identities (SSI). Thirty-five applications from everyday life will be put into practice and tested in areas as diverse as eGovernment, finance, industry, the Internet of Things (IoT), and eHealth, as well as education, identity and access management (IAM), eCommerce, and mobility.
“Within the project, TU Berlin will address a number of different research questions on the interoperability and security of SSI solutions. We are also very interested in issues of practicality and ease of use for valid authentication, which is why we are implementing applications relevant to the student lifecycle. These include digital proof for recognizing credits, SSI-based semester tickets, identity access management and similar functions,” explains Professor Dr. Axel Küpper, head of the Service-centric Networking (SNET) research group at TU Berlin. “In addition to our research group, TU Berlin is further represented in the project by Campus Management’s Identify, Integration and Innovation section as well as the Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T- Labs). We also work closely with 27 other non-TU Berlin partners.
SSI technology offers flexibility and autonomy when identifying, authenticating and authorizing persons, businesses and objects. It allows certificates of every type to be received, stored, managed and displayed on users’ mobile devices and computers as well as in clouds. It also provides businesses with the opportunity to clearly verify customers and institutions, leading to savings in time, costs and administrative procedures.
All software solutions will be made available open access to increase transparency and accessibility. The components to be developed, for example wallet apps for mobile devices and various gateways, will interact with a distributed identity network based on distributed ledger technology (DLT), which has already been put into operation by the core partners in a preliminary phase of the project. This identity network is to be managed by a European association made up of public as well as private partners of the project consortium.
The interoperability with other identity platforms, the involvement of administrations and members of the public, as well as the everyday relevance of the applications support a high level of usage.
Further project partners include the Commerz Bank group’s Main Incubator subsidiary, the Federal Printing Office, Robert Bosch, DB Systel, Siemens, and Deutsche Telekom as well as the federal states of Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Within its “Secure Digital Identities” showcase program, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy initially selected 11 consortia from the many proposals received to submit concepts for electronic identification solutions in the second phase of the competition. The ministry then selected four major showcase projects to examine the benefits and potential of a digital ID verification function in everyday situations. The project will run from 2021 until 2024 The selection procedure was supervised by a panel made up of experts from science and industry as well as representatives of the European Commission, the Office of the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Office for Information Security.