Blog

12/4/2019

Enhanced security and sharing  - a prerequisite for strengthening civil protection

Tone Ophdal, leder Nasjonalt ID-senter.
Tone Opdahl,
leader Nasjonalt ID-senter.

In Norway there are several players whose task it is to register, verify and check people’s identity, along with managing registers of identity information and biometrics and issuing physical and digital proofs of identity.

Despite this fact, there is no common, overarching strategy of how ID work should be managed. The field is fragmented, lacks overall management and is characterized by unclear responsibilities and inadequate knowledge of each other's roles, tasks and practices. The players work alongside each other without making the best use of each other’s expertise, experience and information. The ongoing review of the ID field will be a crucial foundation for securing efficient and secure ID management in Norway.

A lack of collaboration between agencies whose task it is to administer and check identity and prosecute ID crime constitutes a substantial element of vulnerability in our society. In the absence of common national guidelines, the Norwegian ID Centre is working on initiating joint solutions, and ensuring good dissemination of information and best practices between the players. Collaboration and the use of joint solutions could mean saving society great resources, at the same time contributing to better and more uniform ID management.

However, not everybody is welcoming such joint solutions. The argument for solitary action often refers to ideas about different roles and different regulations leading to unique requirements that cannot be met with joint standards and solutions. We have heard a lot of such arguments, but none of them legitimise an absence of collaboration and coordination. Rather, it seems to bear witness of a need for emphasizing one’s own importance and defending one’s turf, rather than creating the best solution that can ensure good ID management and optimal civil protection.

Despite different roles and tasks, the core of ID work is the same for all players whose task it is to provide access, rights and benefits or issue documents based of people’s identity. Is the person in front of you the same as the picture in the document used by him to identify himself? Are the documents genuine? Do we have reason to believe that the document has been issued on the basis of genuine breeder documents and in accordance with standard issuance procedure? Which forms of ID misuse should we be particularly aware of right now? Possible answers to all these questions lie in developing new or exploiting existing common tools and systems.

From the day Norwegian ID Centre was established, we have been working to develop good tools and services for all public ID players. Everything we do should contribute to better and more uniform ID work. We initiate new learning objectives to form a uniform structure of competence. We provide training to enable the players to uncover and solve more cases locally. We collaborate with other players to develop training material for use locally by personnel who have been trained to share their skills with their colleagues. We analyse and share trends of misuse to contribute to more purposeful ID control work. We share targeted ID-related facts about a number of countries to ensure better and more uniform control. We support in demanding document examinations and summarize and share interesting findings.  We gather ID players and ID experts to exchange information, share best practice and contribute to professional development. We collaborate with other European countries and international organisations with the aim of sharing knowledge, experience and tools.

ID management is never stronger than its weakest link. Therefore, we should find the best joint solutions. Only through collaboration and sharing can we make the best possible use of each other’s expertise and experience and make each other better. ID misuse is a rising challenge in many parts of society, and the need for management and coordination of ID work in all private and public players is increasingly urgent. It’s time to replace the “I own this field” jersey with one saying “Together for secure ID”.