Study: Barriers emerging in cross-border use of digital services

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Computer. Source: Vinzent Weinbeer / Pixabay

Despite the supportive legal and political framework, there are several obstacles to the cross-border use of Nordic-Baltic digital services, an international study conducted by Estonian digital state experts revealed.

The experts sought, among other things, an answer to the question of what the possibilities are for using digital identification across borders in eight Nordic and Baltic countries.

"There are significant differences between countries in how identity is implemented and thought about. Due to this, the readiness to offer authentication and the requirements for authentication security vary greatly from country to country," Andres Kutt, CTO of Proud Engineers, said.

Although all the Nordic and Baltic countries included in the analysis apply the electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services (eIDAS) regulation, which aims to facilitate the cross-border use of e-services, there are significant differences in its implementation. "What states consider sufficient for a person to be able to express their will in an electronic environment is very different. There are countries where authentication is sufficient, but also countries where the use of a digital signature is required," Kutt said.

Laura Kask, CEO of Proud Engineers and one of the authors of the study, said that currently the volume of cross-border use of digital services in the Nordic and Baltic countries is very small. There are also few e-services that can be used across borders. She pointed out that concluding transnational agreements to promote cross-border authentication requires not only consensus on technical and procedural issues, but also a good knowledge of the cultural background.

"Although there is a legal framework for EU citizens to be able to identify themselves to use digital services across borders as in their home country and to express their will in an electronic environment, there are few examples of this being put into practice," Kask said.

Estonia is one of the exceptions. "The Estonian-Finnish cross-border digital prescription service is clear proof of how convenient cross-border authentication helps to make life easier," Kask said.

The free movement of people and services as a topic is receiving increasing attention internationally. "Cross-border work, entrepreneurship not depending on location and learning mobility are global trends. The ability of countries to respond to them affects an increasing number of people," Kask said.

She added that experts from both the private and public sectors had predicted an increase in demand for the use of cross-border digital services in interviews conducted during the study. This is especially true in areas related to education, business or work. "In an open world, it is important for people to be able to conveniently authenticate themselves to use services. Sooner or later, it will become a hygiene factor," Kask said.

The study was completed under the leadership of the Nordic Council of Ministers and was commissioned by the Norwegian Digitalization Agency. The study covered eight countries - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The aim of the analysis was to provide an overview of electronic identity and the usability of trust services in domestic and cross-border communication, as well as to analyze the legal landscape and provide an overview of the market situation. The study provides the Nordic Council of Ministers with a comprehensive picture of what is happening in the region and enables further decisions to be made to improve cross-border electronic communication.

Proud Engineers are experts in the digital society, whose daily work is to advise on digital development activities both in Estonia and abroad. Proud Engineers works with both the public and private sectors and is an independent consulting firm.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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