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My e-Journey - looking forward. Part 9. European interoperable trust infrastructure platform

I had thought that my stories would advance in chronological order - but notice that so many rungs and rail composites from the early e-ladders are important in the next ones - that I keep moving back and forth. I hope it still makes sense.

At this point I cannot stay away from looking to the next concrete platform - the interoperable European Trust Infrastructure. A Single Market for data - a true mission and clear vision. Do we have a strong platform to start from?  Are there strong enough rails for the next ladder? What are the rungs needed in the ladder? What should this ladder be called? Do we spend enough time on the next concrete steps or are our heads in the clouds? 

1. Do we have a strong platform to start from? I claim yes. Firstly as progressive member states are moving forward and as the EU Commission has seen that the data driven economy is a top priority and already years ago moved to a new level of mandatory legislation with GDPR (especially article 20). And legislation is moving forward to also make the public sector-hosted data moving to life events. Some danger that legislation will not work in reality has been located - and must be addressed properly. A very important part of the starting platform are the generally accepted MyData principles - make it happen (data to life events) and make it right (human centric).. eIDAS2 is building on this.

Based on the concrete tests I have observed over five years with Self-Sovereign Identity and the Trust over IP stacks, it is clear to me that this architecture is the way forward. Many enough countries have (i) understood that a national decision for it is needed, (ii) that  open data, open source and open standards are the way forward, (iii) that we should use ready global standards - in no case reinvent wheels for Europe and that (iv) there are no better alternatives. So lets start building the ladders.

2. Do we have strong enough rails? Stronger than ever before as the ID/factwallets are general-purpose tools and interoperable by design without technical integration  and bring in a new dimension of trust and security. Economy of repetition, trust reuse, scale, scope, scale, standardisation and legislation is familiar from earlier ladders. An element needing strenghtening in many member states is the public-private co-operation. The public sectors sometimes tend to isolate themselves (also from knowhow and market conditions) and enterprises do not always see the good-for-society-at-large as the highest goal. The public-private Findy-consortium has been a good example of how to get the ball rolling. Also the German IDUnion has produced impressive results. The most important part of the rails will be the networks that interconnect all general-purpose wallets - serving the life event rungs. Hundreds of them - each acting as lever for the next one.

3. What rungs are needed in the ladder? In my book the starting point is to promise to citizens - at home and at work (there are no corporate customers - only human..)-  that life-event driven service design rules. This means that service providers will (i) choose the life events the want to serve, (ii) identify the MyData (sometimes also Big Data) customers need for the life event, (iii) locate the data, (iv) make sure that the data source get Factwallets to send and (v) customers Factwallets to reiceive the data. Once this is understood as the "constitution" in the Trust Infrastrucure we will see a profileration of life-event serving rungs. Services using data from all sectors and across EU-borders without need for technical integration with the help of FindyNet-like public-private not-for-profit networks.

4. What should this ladder be called? Much effort is needed to create narratives that citizens understand and organisations take forward. A real effort should be made to name the platform we now stand on, the ladders and the destination platform - so that the names are understood, communicated and stick. What is understood, is repeated and what is repeated changes the world. So my take for the foundation platform would be: Open standards for Trust Infrastructure. Ladder: Bringing verified data to life events. Next platform: European Interoperable Trust Infrastructure.

5. Do we spend enough time on the next concrete steps or are our heads only in the clouds?  I have to admit that it has disturbed me in the past, that there has been a tendency to rush away to the next hype before a critical mass of users have been brought into using the previous ladder. Sometimes it even looks like we are trying to provide ladders with only the top rungs in place - not very user friendly. Perhaps it is media's fault...  I am of course not saying that we should not keep scanning the horizon all the time - and when there is a hunch we should take our idea around the next corner (we cannot see who is there..) and test it out. But innovation happens only once a critical mass of customers have started to step on the next rung..  Until then it may be a figment of imagination or end up as a dead end street.






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Bo Harald

Bo Harald

Chairman/Founding member, board member

Transmeri, Demos, Real Time Economy Program,MyData

Member since

04 Nov 2008


Helsinki Region

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Trust is the essential oil needed to make data flow in today’s transactional era. However, privacy and security concerns mean that many people and organisations are increasingly unwilling to share their data. We believe that data sovereignty forms the cornerstone of digital trust. Making data sovereignty a key design principle will stimulate data sharing as the basis for enabling everyone – not just the big tech giants, but also all other businesses, organisations and especially citizens.

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