February 2, 2022 - 5:20 am

One Digital ID

Going a step ahead of the Aadhar Card, the government is working on a new model to link multiple digital IDs all into one. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has proposed a new model of “Federated Digital Identities” under which a citizen’s multiple digital IDs — from PAN and Aadhaar to driving licence and passport numbers — can be interlinked, stored, and accessed via one unique Digital ID. The Ministry, according to a draft proposal has suggested that this umbrella digital identity will “empower” the citizen by “putting her in control of these identities and providing her the option of choosing which one to use for what purpose.                                    

The Federal Digital Identity will also seemingly serve as a one-stop destination to store Central and State-related ID data. This digital ID could be used for KYC or eKYC (know your customer) processes. The proposed plan has been moved under the India Enterprise Architecture (IndEA) 2.0 which was first introduced in 2017 to essentially bring government and private entities to ease online identification processes.

Apart from a “federated digital identity”, the new framework has also proposed three major architectural patterns for different government agencies. The domain architecture pattern would be most suited to be adopted by Central ministries, or by ministries which deal with concurrent or state subjects, or have substantial funding and involvement of the Central government. The state architecture pattern would be adopted by the state governments, while a third InDEA Lite architecture pattern has been recommended for adoption by smaller departments of the Central and state governments.

The new draft framework also suggests that information technology projects which are built under the new architecture must be developed in such a way that they are interlinked and interoperable. These projects must follow the government’s open application programming interface policy, wherein the source code of the project is available for everyone to tweak and improve upon, the framework proposed.  The InDEA 2.0 report recommends a highly selective approach to the design and development of the building blocks. Only the core building blocks are proposed to be designed, developed, and managed centrally by the central or state governments. “From a governance perspective, the government plays an enabling role in respect of the remaining building blocks

THE umbrella digital identity could, by being linked to existing identities, do away with the need for repeated verification. This is under an updated framework of the India Enterprise Architecture which also envisages an IT framework under which states and Centre, public and private entities can go beyond their “boundaries”. 

Digital identity is well and truly established as one of the most significant technology trends on the planet. As a result, a revolution in how individuals interact with public institutions and even private organisations is in full swing. The ‘Federated Digital Identity’ would hope to ease the process of eKYC with just one unique ID. However, critics may raise issues with digital  security, and an umbrella identity could pose more risks towards exposing critical data. However, the proposed idea is an nascent stages, and the inner workings remain unclear. The proposal will reportedly be available in the public domain soon, and the Ministry might seek comments by February 27.