How eIDs are improving security on the Danish internet
All across Europe, electronic identities (eIDs) are on the rise. More and more countries are deciding that, in this day and age, we can't keep relying on photocopies of people's passports to verify their identities. Over the next few years, on-line authentication will get a major boost in the Netherlands from the adoption of eHerkenning by the business community. Similar developments are taking place in other countries, including Denmark.
eIDs in Denmark
In Denmark, eIDs have been in widespread use for several years. Every Danish citizen has an eID (NemID), making it easy for people to identify themselves on line. As well as being more convenient, rapid identity verification helps to minimise abuse.
Fighting cybercrime with eIDs
Last month, DK Hostmaster -- the 'Danish SIDN' -- presented the results of their efforts to fight cybercrime by using eIDs. Most registrants of .dk domain names have to identify themselves electronically, so it's easy to trace them and take action if the domain is linked to abuse. Both in situations where the registrant is the culprit, and where the domain's security has been compromised.
Use of eIDs has been hugely effective. As a percentage of all webshops in the .dk domain, fake webshops have dwindled from nearly 7 per cent in 2017 to just 0.1 per cent at the start of 2019. More than three thousand fakes were taken off line in the space of a year. The Danish police estimate that, in 2018 alone, DK Hostmaster's initiative has saved three person-years of investigation work. And it's not only police time that's been saved: use of NemIDs has all but eliminated data entry errors and confusion about who a registrant is.
eIDs represent a big challenge for Europe
DK Hostmaster's decision to adopt the eID policy is based on the conviction that cutting out abuse is the best way to make the .dk domain attractive to users. Less abuse means more trust. A philosophy that SIDN shares. However, the Danish example has also shown that insisting on electronic identification does present challenges. Particularly if you want to welcome registrants from other countries. The registry currently allows non-Danish registrants to identify themselves by other means. In the future, the eIDAS Directive will require DK Hostmaster to accept other European states' eIDs.
Lessons for the Netherlands?
From the Danish example, it's clear how valuable a widely used eID system can be. Electronic IDs are on the rise in the Netherlands too, driven not by government policy, but by the market. eHerkenning has seen particularly rapid growth as government agencies have adopted it for the identification of enterprises. Together with IRMA, we're working on a unique privacy-enabled identity platform that lets users share only as much personal data as strictly necessary. If such developments continue, we'll be able to start using electronic identification within .nl to further enhance security.