The government has presented plans for a voluntary electronic identification system for online users of e-commerce and government services.
The digital IDs will be issued by certified private providers in close cooperation with the justice ministry and the finance ministry.
The proposals foresee a user-friendly, secure and efficient system, which is free of charge for individuals, according to Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.
“The government sets clear rules to make the digital identification verifiable and unambiguous,” Sommaruga said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Experts argue it is both in the interest of the business community and of consumers to set up a system for the identification of online users giving the increasing demands of the digital society.
However, the digital ID is not meant to serve as passport or other travel document.
“It is simply an identification in the digital world,” said Martin Dumermuth of the Federal Justice Office.
Instead the proposed system could be used by providers of social media platforms, health services or banks, the government says.
It remains to be seen whether the digital ID can also be used for e-voting, according to Dumermuth.
The planned law is meant to be compatible with data protection regulations and regulations of the European Union countries. It is also aimed at allowing Switzerland to catch up notably with countries in northern Europe and the Baltic which have been at the forefront of digital administration.
The justice ministry has been tasked to present a draft by the middle of next year. Pending approval by the government it will be presented to parliament at a later stage.
A previous attempt at setting up an e-ID was dropped following criticism that the system focused too much on state providers.