PROJECT FOCUS: FutureTrust – The Practical Implementation of eIDAS

The FutureTrust project started on June 1st 2016 and aims to support the practical implementation of eIDAS regulation in Europe and beyond. Chair of EEMA (a FutureTrust project partner), Jon Shamah, talks to the ID Bulletin about the progress the project making….

Can you briefly introduce the FutureTrust project for anyone not yet aware of it?

FutureTrust consists of 16 partners from 10 countries and is coordinated by the Ruhr-University, in Bochum Germany. It is designing and developing innovative Open Source components and services complementing the current eIDAS ecosystem. FutureTrust shows how practical eIDAS compliant applications can be constructed and utilised with the aid of the developed FutureTrust components.

FutureTrust project addresses the need for globally interoperable solutions through basic research with respect to the foundations of trust and trustworthiness, actively supports the standardisation process in relevant areas, and provides Open Source software components and trustworthy services which will ease the use of eID and electronic signature technology in real world applications. In particular the FutureTrust project will extend the existing European Trusted List (TL) infrastructure towards a “Global Trust List”, develop a comprehensive Open Source Validation Service as well as a scalable Preservation Service for electronic signatures and seals and will provide components for the eID-based application for qualified certificates across borders, and for the trustworthy creation of remote signatures and seals in a mobile environment.

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What have been the biggest challenges and successes of the project to date?

eIDAS is a broad regulation covering a wide range of Trust Services. The regulation is outcome focussed and so FutureTrust has been developing components in parallel with the evolution of standards relating to eIDAS itself – often having to second-guess roadmaps to the outcomes. Importantly, FutureTrust, through its Global Trust List, extends the applicability of eIDAS to outside the EU. This is particularly relevant to extended supply chains and interoperability between eIDAS and other schemes.

FutureTrust was recently presented at ConnectID in Washington. How important is it to take eIDAS outside EU borders? And what was the feedback from the US?

There has been extensive interest in eIDAS in the USA. However their pre-occupation in establishing their own schemes, often hampered by corporate self-interest has led to a significant delay in realisation that US-EU trust is growing in importance. The impact of the international implications of GDPR is beginning to improve the realisation in the need of interactions with eIDAS services and so it is expected that the interest will be slowly growing into solid activities in 2018/2019.

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Are there any plans to engage with other non-EU countries?

Yes, FutureTrust is applicable to all non EU countries, so many countries have expressed an interest. Especially amongst these are the Digital 7 countries, and those EU’s Eastern European Partnership:  Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Georgia and Azerbaijan are already active in FutureTrust.

How important are EU-funded projects such as FutureTrust in driving interoperable identity across the EU?

Many issues are too large and expensive to be solely private sector initiatives. Additionally, the strategic nature of Identity and Trust means that the highest level of patronage and support is needed to drive these innovations. This is what Horizon 2020 achieves.

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of the project?

FutureTrust will establish a range of open source components that will make it simpler to incorporate eIDAS trust services whether situated within Europe of elsewhere, globally.

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Chair of EEMA, Jon Shamah