E-ID: Federal Council adopts dispatch

Bern, 22.11.2023 - The Confederation's new electronic identity (e-ID) will enable users to identify themselves digitally in a secure, fast and uncomplicated way. At its meeting on 22 November 2023, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the new Federal Act on Electronic Identity Credentials and Other Electronic Credentials (E-ID Act). The e-ID will be issued by the Confederation, will guarantee the greatest possible protection of personal data, and its use will be free of charge and voluntary. The Federal Council is proposing that the infrastructure required to operate the e-ID can also be used by cantonal and communal authorities and by private individuals and entities to issue electronic credentials.

Anyone who has a Swiss identity card, a Swiss passport or a foreign national identity card issued in Switzerland will be able to apply for an e-ID. In response to feedback from the consultation process, the Federal Council is proposing that the e-ID be issued both online and at passport offices.

Use of the e-ID is voluntary and free of charge. It can be used both on the internet - for example when ordering a criminal records extract online - and in face-to-face situations - for example in shops as proof of age when buying alcohol. All federal services for which the e-ID can be used will continue to be offered in analogue form. At the same time, all Swiss authorities must accept the e-ID as a valid proof of identity, provided they accept electronic credentials in principle.

Federal government paves the way for digital transformation

The Confederation is to be responsible for issuing the e-ID and will provide the infrastructure required to operate it. It will also provide the app required by users to save their e-ID on their smartphone. This will also be accessible without restrictions to people with disabilities. Contrary to what was envisaged in the consultation, the Confederation rather than the cantons will provide support for users.

The Federal Council is also proposing that the state infrastructure created for the e-ID should be made available to cantonal and communal authorities and private individuals. Documents such as confirmation of residence, business register extracts, diplomas, tickets or membership cards, which today are usually issued physically or at best as PDF documents, will in future also be available as digital credentials on a smartphone. In this way, the Confederation is laying the foundations for Switzerland's digital transformation.

E-ID guarantees the best possible data protection

Users of the state-recognised e-ID will have the best possible control over their data (self-sovereign identity). Data protection will be guaranteed firstly by the system itself (privacy by design), secondly by minimising the data that must be disclosed (data minimisation) and thirdly by storing the e-ID exclusively on the user's smartphone (decentralised data storage). As regards data protection, in view of the results of the consultation the Federal Council is proposing a further measure: as a deterrent to ensure data minimisation, if someone requests more e-ID data than is necessary in a specific case, public notice will be given of this.

The legislation is formulated to be technology-neutral, so that it will still be relevant and applicable even if major technical and societal developments occur. And lastly, the Swiss e-ID system is intended to comply with international standards, which will ensure that the e-ID can also be recognised and used abroad going forward.

The Federal Council plans to offer the e-ID from 2026. In order to keep to this schedule, the preparatory work for building the required infrastructure has already begun. Around CHF 182 million will be required between 2023 and 2028 to develop and operate the trust infrastructure, issue the e-ID and run the pilot projects. The operating costs from 2029 are estimated at around CHF 25 million per year.

A previous e-ID Act was rejected in a referendum on 7 March 2021. In contrast to the new proposal, the previous legislation envisaged a system in which the e-ID would be issued by private providers rather than by the Confederation.

Explanation of technical terms
Self-sovereign identity (i.e. self-determined identity): Maximum user control over personal data. For example, the e-ID is only stored on the smartphone. The user determines when and where the e-ID is used.
Privacy by design (data protection-friendly hardware and software): Data protection is taken into account in the development of the entire system from the very beginning. For example, the issuer of the e-ID has no knowledge of when and where someone uses an e-ID.
Data minimisation: Only the e-ID data that are absolutely necessary for a specific purpose are transmitted when the e-ID is used. For example, if a customer must be at least 18 years old to make a purchase, a web shop only receives the information that the customer has reached this minimum age. Other personal data such as the actual date of birth are not transmitted.

Address for enquiries

Rolf Rauschenbach, Federal Office of Justice, T +41 58 465 31 20, rolf.rauschenbach@bj.admin.ch


The Federal Council

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