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EU now recognizes digital IDs across borders

It should be that much easier to move abroad or open a bank account.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 30, 2018
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Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you're a European Union citizen, it just became that much easier to prove your identity -- wherever you happen to be in the region. The EU now officially supports cross-border recognition for digital IDs, making your virtual driver's license or bank card useful in any member state so long as it's notified according to EU rules. Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain have already finished the notification process. Croatia and Estonia are next in line, while Belgium, Portugal and the UK (yes, despite everything) are in the early stages.

The move should mostly reduce paperwork, making it easier to enroll in universities, check your health records or set up bank accounts. You might even have the chance to create bank accounts in other EU countries without having to show up in person, although the European Commission is working with an expert group to prevent abuse for purposes like money laundering.

There are some broader implications as well. This could help you share only the data that's absolutely essential, which should be vital for blockchain-based identity systems where distributed trust is everything. It could also be used to bolster GDPR rules by either verifying ages or safeguarding children online without having to reveal any of their information.

It's going to be a long while before you can simply assume that your digital ID will work wherever you go within the EU. In practice, the new rules amount to an inconsistent patchwork. Even so, it may just be a question of when, not if, you can stop worrying about having physical identification close at hand.

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