eIDAS and blockchain technology

A user-centred identity management across different levels and departments is especially dependent on trustworthy identities. The eID function of the Personalausweis (identity document) has already completed the first step towards a legally secure digital identity. Since 1.7.2016, the EU's eIDAS Regulation has created a uniform legal framework for electronic security services. The provisions of the regulation apply directly, but due to the openness of their content and their numerous implementation authorisations, they leave member states with a significant room for interpretation and application. The effects on the German legal order, especially the remaining national room for configuration and the configuration options of the European Commission, have not yet been the subject of comprehensive academic examination. The definition of general standards and a comparable level of trust and security levels is a particular regulatory challenge.

Blockchain technology is to a certain extent in competition with established procedures, such as are provided for in the eIDAS Regulation. The technology has attracted a great deal of attention as potential “trust machine”; for example, the expectation has been created that the authenticity and integrity of digital contents could be secured without having to trust individual actors. But the fulfilment of statutory requirements, such as those expected of qualified electronic time stamps, is not thereby guaranteed.

The project will pursue the topics of identity management and the creation of trust in technical infrastructures. It will in addition include the possibilities of blockchain technology in the investigation. But as things currently stand, only a very limited area of use for blockchains can be assumed. Consequently, the project will on the one hand deal with the legal requirements in order to investigate whether blockchain technology can also be configured to be eIDAS-compliant; on the other, the project will analyse additional cryptographic techniques that permit improved data protection in the blockchain context. 

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Prof. Dr. Christoph Sorge