Porvoo Group

The international Porvoo Group supports the deployment of electronic identiy in Europe

The Porvoo Group is an international cooperative network whose primary goal is to promote a trans-national, interoperable electronic identity based on PKI technology (Public Key Infrastructure) and smart cards and chip ID cards, in order to help ensure secure public and private sector e-transactions in Europe. The Group also promotes the introduction of interoperable certificates and technical specifications, the mutual, cross-border acceptance of identification and authentication mechanisms, as well as cross-border, online access to administrative services.

As its name suggests, the Porvoo Group was established in the Finnish city of Porvoo in April 2002. Following the joint initiative by one of the eEurope Smart Card Charter chairmen and the Director General of the Finnish Population Register Centre, the founding meeting took place at Hotel Haikko Manor during the international conference held in conjunction with the Public Identity Project of the Smart Card Charter operating under the eEurope 2002 programme.

The Group has seen constant expansion. The majority of its members represent their respective national authorities but representatives of the business community as well as the European Commission and the UN have also contributed to its work. At present, some 30 countries from Europe, the United States, Canada and Asia have representatives in the Group. Porvoo Group conferences have been attended by as many as approximately one hundred delegates.

The Porvoo Group meets twice a year

The Porvoo Group's two-day conferences are held every six months. The conferences always include a comprehensive presentation by the hosting country on the situation of the Information Society and the electronic identity in the said hosting country. In addition, the participating countries present their country updates. The primary objective of the conferences is to bring under discussion “Best practices” in the PKI technology, present on-going PKI projects, follow the progress of standardisation and biometrics in the field of electronic identity, discuss various studies concerning the EU Directive governing electronic signatures and draft statements and proposals to the European Commission when deemed necessary.

The Group is pro-active

The Porvoo Group is a pro-active, European-level electronic identity “interest group”, widely recognised as a significant and relevant contributor to informed public dialogue in this area. Amongst its other activities, the Group has issued or initiated the following recommendations:

  1. A letter of request sent to the European Commission in order to update the Driving License Directive to allow an electronic identity chip to be included on driving licenses.
  2. Has started discussions concerning the legal aspects of electronic identity and identification and authentication functions carrying out a study on the European Cross-Border Authentication Legislative Environment and the need, if any, for the EU to regulate the interoperable European electronic identity. The study recommends using the Directive governing electronic signatures as a common legislative solution.
  3. Has recognised the important developments underway in the field “Biometrics in Passports and in the future also in ID cards” and has expressed its immediate need from the electronic ID card perspective for an international standard template for fingerprint minutiae. This position has been communicated to the CEN/ISSS (European Committee for Standardization/ Information Society Standardization System) Biometric Focus Group.

The permanent secretariat coordinates the function of the Group

The joint Chairs of the Porvoo Group are Head of Registration, Ms Tuire Saaripuu from the Certification Authority Services of the Finnish Population Register Centre and the Chairperson of the Organising Committee of the member country hosting the next Porvoo Group conference.

The Finnish Population Register Centre constitutes the permanent secretariat of the Group. The secretariat manages communications between conferences and jointly organises conferences together with the hosting country organisation. The secretariat also handles media relations pertaining to the conferences together with the hosting country organisation.

Additional information is available on the Internet: www.fineid.fi -> What’s going on around the world -> Porvoo Group