Identification in E-Government

Identification in E-Government

Herbert Leitold (A-SIT, Secure Information Technology Center, Austria) and Reinhard Posch (Federal Chief Information Officer, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch103
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Abstract

Official procedures usually require that the citizen is unmistakably identified. This may be needed to ensure that the person approaching the authority is the one that has filed an application such as tracking the status of a request, for exercising certain rights such as representing a company or being a party in a proceeding, or for ensuring that the person is eligible to receive certain information such as her penal record. We define identification as the process necessary to validate or recognize identity. In addition to identification, authenticity of a declaration of intent or act is needed in order to establish assurance of the purported identity. In conventional paper-based processes with personal appearance identification is usually carried out using identity cards, deeds, or witnesses. Authentication is provided by handwritten signatures. When in e-government official processes are carried out electronically, both identification and authentication remain important aspects and need to be supported electronically. This may be provided by introducing electronic substitutes of paper-based official documents and handwritten signatures. At first glance, electronic signatures, digital certificates, and public key infrastructure (PKI) are such means. The legal basis for electronic signatures exists, for example, at the E.U. level (Signature Directive, 1999) or by national signature laws such as (Signature Law, 2000). However, some issues need to be considered when introducing identification models for e-government on the regional or national level. These issues include scalability, durability, sustainability, and last but not least data protection and privacy. In this article we discuss these issues on identification in e-government. Therefore, the requirements on identification are sketched in section “Requirements of an Identification Model.” Section “Identification vs. Electronic Signatures” continues by highlighting what shortcomings an identification model solely relying on electronic signatures and PKI faces. Section “Approaches to Electronic Identification” gives an overview of what solutions have been proposed and section “Fragmented Identifiers to Preserve Privacy” deepens one approach by introducing the model that has been followed by Austria (E-Government Act, 2004).

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