Feb 16, 2023
EU Embraces Privacy with Zero-Knowledge Proofs in eID Framework
The European Union has long been renowned for its complex relationship with privacy, being one of the first places to implement strict data protection regulations. Despite this, its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) project lacks the anonymity standards of private cryptocurrencies. Last week, however, EU lawmakers took a step towards embracing privacy in the space of citizens’ digital identities.
On February 9th, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee voted in favour of the standard of zero-knowledge proofs in its amendments to the European digital identity framework (eID). The vote was 55-8 in favour of the draft, which will now proceed to the trilogue phase of negotiations.
The press release specified that EU citizens will be given full control over their data, with the option to decide what information to share and with whom. This will allow them to authenticate themselves online (via a European digital identity wallet) without having to resort to commercial providers, which has raised trust, security and privacy concerns.
Jonas Fredriksen, the senior director for EU government affairs at Circle, commented on Twitter that this proposal could facilitate the emergence of new business models and opportunities in the digital economy, as companies develop innovative products and services that rely on zero-knowledge proofs and eID solutions.
Zero-knowledge proofs have been the focus of much research lately, as they offer a possible way to ensure regulatory compliance and privacy in digital currencies. The Mina Foundation, Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe bank and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust of the University of Luxembourg recently collaborated on a paper which showed how zero proofs could be connected to Europe’s eIDAS electronic identity system.
Not everyone is convinced by this solution, however. Balázs Némethi, the CEO of Veri Labs and a co-founder of kycDAO, argues that when relying on proofs alone is insufficient and personal information sharing is essential, relying on off-chain solutions is advised.
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