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D4.2: Set of requirements for interoperability of Identity Management Systems

Actions and relative importance at the technical, legal and cultural levels  FIDIS


Role of government, merchants and users to foster interoperability



Obviously, governments have important roles to play, roles which they have not always fulfilled.  


Following the experts, the impact of governments’ actions regarding interoperability should be assessed by the following criteria: 


- Governments have to create a vision on a specific IMS, to state clearly the goals and define the requirements of the solution proposed. eID egovernment applications are usually more complex than commercial eID solutions owing to the greater number of stakeholders involved. 

- Governments should further invest in country-wide eID processes, such as for example, the distribution of eID cards.  This could be used by industry as a reliable basis for the further development of IMS.

- Governments should therefore offer funding and information and should establish pilot projects to spread standards. 

- Asbjørn Følstad presented his view by saying that there have been attempts by government organizations to establish ID systems in a top-down manner, but not enough resources have been allocated for any of these to become efficient. As such, most currently active initiatives (in the field of electronic identification) have gone over to a bottom-up approach where industry is leading. 




As a common perception by the experts, merchants and industry groups should ideally be the enablers of an eID solution, creating the infrastructure and carrying the main brunt of the costs. In return, they should be able to generate revenue by offering services in connection with the eID. To put it another way, they have to be the driving force to spread the technology, because they earn the money and will negotiate the investments. 


Major players, such as for example companies in banking or consulting, have developed their own internal transnational network systems, including interoperable identity features.  Examples are Swift, or PricewaterhouseCoopers.  They work with their own standards in proprietary networks.  Their interoperable IMS, however, is not used in their external communication networks.  Another model is being implemented by TWIST as consortium led by Tom Bushman (interviewee from Shell). TWIST aims to define open standard payment systems which can be freely used by all merchants in the network to for payment transfers. In this system, identity management is one of the key factors and they have joined up with Identrus for this purpose. TWIST is a unique approach in the sense that it is based on open standards and will shake the business model of proprietary networks if it becomes widely adopted.


As described above, industry should be able to rely on the investment and efforts of the governments in IMSs.  Where the basic structures for IMSs are developed by governments, merchants could without doubt offer additional value to the IMSs.  On the other hand, however, it is also possible that each industry will want to remain in its own ‘space’.


Moreover, within the industry sector, Mr Lindmo believes that the easiest method for electronic identity to be disseminated into societies is by the banks.  Although there are many industries that could offer e-IDs, none have such an infrastructure of users who regularly connect to their services online as banks.  This frequency of use means that users will be used to using the eIDs, will have less problems forgetting passwords, or how to use their accounts, and will be agile enough to take advantage of other services that might be associated with the eID throughout the market, such as online vending, or egovernment. The existing cooperation common to the banking industry, and their position within the financial communities puts them in a unique position to be the provider of these IDs.




Users are the receivers of the developed systems. They don’t have an important active role in the development of IMS but they need to understand the value of the systems proposed. For this reason, accurate and reliable information is necessary. In order to favour interoperability, one should also show the benefits to the communities of the users.  Without interoperability, too many IMS will exist and will complicate life.  


In addition, a common terminology is seen as a requirement in order to explain the issues of interoperability to the users.  This terminology should be the same or should be useable in different areas, such as privacy and identity management.  



Actions and relative importance at the technical, legal and cultural levels  fidis-wp4-del4_2.set_of_requirements_03.sxw  egovernment
Denis Royer 18 / 43