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Transforming digital identity management in Switzerland with zero-knowledge

Transforming digital identity management in Switzerland with zero-knowledge

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Partisia Blockchain and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO Valais-Wallis) are poised to transform the management of digital identities for Swiss citizens.

This partnership aims to develop a decentralised electronic identity system in harmony with the Swiss Federal Council’s unwavering commitment to data privacy and security.

This collaboration marks a significant leap toward redefining digital identity management in Switzerland. The joint project aims to empower individuals with control over their personal data, ensuring a future where privacy and security are not compromised.

The primary objective of this project is to define the architecture for a self-sovereign identity (SSI)-based electronic identity (e-ID), creating a minimum viable product (MVP) and seamlessly integrating it into a public administration portal.

The SSI solution empowers citizens by enabling them to wield credentials issued by public administrations in mobile applications, offering the autonomy to select the data they disclose when accessing services. Central to this innovation is the blockchain technology, with Partisia Blockchain at the forefront, introducing a fast, sustainable and privacy-centric blockchain solution.

Kurt Nielsen, PhD, President of Partisia Blockchain, said: “Our aim is to place control firmly in the hands of individuals, allowing them to become the ultimate custodians of their personal information. This approach not only enhances privacy but also elevates the level of security that individuals can expect from digital identity management.”

Partisia Blockchain, known for its proficiency in zero-knowledge and private smart contracts, provides a platform where individuals exercise absolute control over their personal data. This decentralised system ensures that the individual is the ultimate owner of their information, setting a new standard in privacy and security.

Jean-Luc Beuchat, Professor at HES-SO Valais-Wallis, said: “We are thrilled to introduce our SSI solution, designed to provide a simple, secure and open-source approach to digital identity management. Its versatility makes it ideal for a wide range of applications, from government-issued e-IDs to humanitarian aid initiatives. Our scalable solution can be seamlessly adapted to meet the unique requirements of diverse organisations.”

In response to the rejection of the Federal Act on Electronic Identification Services (e-ID Act) by Swiss citizens in March 2021, the Swiss Federal Council promptly recommended Parliament to approve six motions addressing citizens’ concerns and proposing a new e-ID Act. This led to the drafting of technical solutions by the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), including the discussion paper on the target vision for an e-ID in August 2021.

The paper outlined three technical approaches: a state identity provider, a public-key infrastructure and self-sovereign identity (SSI). Opting for the latter approach, the Federal Council is in the final stages of concluding consultations before the year’s end.

The solution developed by Partisia Blockchain, DuoKey, and HES-SO Valais-Wallis is slated for presentation to the Swiss Federal Department of Justice before Christmas. Emphasising its various benefits, including non-disclosure of personal information, data usability for statistics and planning without revealing personal information, and its compliance with Swiss legislation, this solution aligns seamlessly with the vision outlined by the Swiss Federal Council.

The Partisia Blockchain and HES-SO Valais-Wallis’ joint solution is a pivotal moment in reshaping digital identity management in Switzerland, emphasising a commitment to privacy, security and a decentralised approach. The joint efforts aim to echo the Swiss regulations of data governance, prioritising individual empowerment and stringent privacy measures.

The system relies on verifiable credentials (VCs) to ensure secure and privacy-preserving authentication along with SD-JWT selective disclosure. Managed through smart contracts deployed by a universally trusted governance framework, citizens can securely log into various web portals using these credentials. Supported by proven cryptographic techniques, this system maintains data integrity and privacy, ensuring a robust digital identity management solution.

Energy efficiency, scalability and security have been at the core of our solution as well. Partisia Blockchain not only offers a sustainable choice but also ensures the scalability needed to accommodate any number of users while upholding the highest standards of security.

The collaboration between Partisia Blockchain, DuoKey and HES-SO Valais-Wallis marks a pivotal step forward in digital identity management in Switzerland, particularly in the context of the broader European landscape where projects, such as the European Union’s e-ID, are sparking discussions about privacy and data security. By focusing on an SSI-based e-ID and utilising zero-knowledge and private smart contracts, this solution aims to empower individuals with unparalleled control over their personal data. This approach not only ensures robust privacy and security but also sets a new standard in digital identity management, highlighting user empowerment and a commitment to a decentralised framework.

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