The modern rules of public authority

Last updated: 25 November 2016

Public authority


The organic bond which links the multiple (citizens) to the unicity (the public authority which guarantees the right to trust for all) is a bond that can only be maintained by a body which holds authority (either by way of structure or by mandate).

The authoritative body protects the equality of each of us in the eyes of the law. It holds indisputable legitimacy and serves an impartial role as defender of the general interest.

But trust is too much of a fragile bond to open up to sorcerers’ apprentices, as the operators of social networks and the digital IDs they provide are often seen to be in terms of respecting privacy. There is an inherent risk in having their accreditation systems recognized by the State and being eligible for public services.

The permanence of public authority

We recently analyzed 1,300 interviews conducted across Brazil, UK, South Africa, Singapore, the Netherlands and the U.S. Not surprisingly, the feedback we received on citizen expectations for mobile security emphasized the permanence of public authority as a concept and need.

After all, the protection of the public good is not built on a market dominated by financial interests and goals. And the bond of trust with public governance is the very essence of the soul of our democracies in general and of the social contract in particular.

Today, the sovereign bond is not just an archaic relic of the centralization of yesteryear – it is much more now. It is first and foremost the identity-laden vehicle for collective trust and thus for the social cohesion of any given territory.

The challenges of public modernization

Public authorities find themselves in a situation where they must at the same time:

  1. Demonstrate their capacity to provide a service that is as efficient, inventive and pioneering as private sector service providers, by using the best methods and tools from the private sector (internet, mobile, marketing, customer relations, payment, access, etc.)
  2. Maintain and emphasize, an image of authority, ethics, symbols and values which create a sense of community and are the guarantees of social cohesion.

These two approaches have one point in common, namely the permanence and universality of the bond of public trust.

This bond of trust and mutual recognition between the citizen and the collective group to which they belong requires a bond of identification. This means digital identity or mobile ID when dealing with the virtual world.

Mobile Identity or Mobile ID, in the same way as electronic identity, holds the attributes of the bond of trust. It makes mobile digital exchanges both technically and legally secure.

To conclude, I’d like to emphasize how important it is that public stakeholders and their partners should possess the desire to include digital identity as defining features of their modernization process for the years to come. Furthermore, we should also recognize how digital ID can help us achieve a balance between more visible state apparatus and a more secure and stronger sense of citizenship as citizens can interact with government services in a more convenient way.

Together, public stakeholders and their partners can join forces with those at the forefront of pioneering to help build the sustainable society of tomorrow.

How do you think digital identity can redefine the rules of modern public authority? Let us know by posting a comment below, or tweeting to us at @GemaltoMobile.

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