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Catalan government announces self-sovereign identity project


On Saturday, the government of Catalonia announced its plans for self-sovereign identities (SSIs) for citizens based on blockchain technology. The project, named IdentiCAT, was revealed by the President of Catalonia Quim Torra and will allow citizens to be the “owner, manager and exclusive custod[ian] of his identity and data”.

The autonomous state hopes to build an identity system which gives its people control over their data while meeting EU guidelines. These eIDAS guidelines would allow the IDs to be accepted in EU countries and used in digital authentication.

Catalonia’s government will act solely as a validator to create legal and eIDAS compliant identities. Beyond that, the decentralized SSIs are to be entirely managed by the citizen.

“Catalonia becomes the first country in which the citizen is the owner, manager and exclusive custodian of your identity and your data,” said President Torra.

“We live up to countries like Estonia, Finland, Norway or Switzerland, who are beginning to not be prisoners of identity models compulsorily linked to the idea of the former nation-state with borders and guardians,” he continued.

Indeed, Estonia was a pioneer in issuing digital IDs and is considered a leader in e-government. For instance, enterprise blockchain firm Guardtime has been working with the country’s healthcare sector for many years.

Through a smartphone or computer, Catalonian citizens will be able to create their SSI and choose what to share with the government. Whether IdentiCAT will store these identities on an existing blockchain platform is currently unknown.

“Catalonia is an entrepreneurial society that is attentive to digital innovations and innovations with the aim of bringing people to the center of their policies, as well as digital policies,” added President Torra.

The Minister of Digital Policies and Public Administration, Jordi Puigneró, agreed: “[IdentiCAT is] a tool of digital innovation in the service of the economic development of the country.”

Self-sovereign identity is an active sector in the blockchain space. One of the leading SSI firms, Sovrin, recently supported four credentialing and blockchain startups in its first incubator round. The Sovrin Network runs with the Hyperledger Indy project. Earlier this year, Hyperledger announced the separate Aries identity project. Plus, South Korean companies, including LG, Samsung, and SK Telecom are working on a blockchain identity service.