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Electronic identities

Join Bart Jacobs as he will explain an exciting new technology that offers an alternative approach to electronic identities

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Event description

The digital world in which we live is dominated by platforms like Facebook, Amazon, Uber, AirBnB etc. These centralised platforms register all our actions and transactions and turn them into detailed profiles about us, which are being used for commercial and/or political steering. The topic of who we are online, that is, of our electronic identity, has great societal and geopolitical importance. There are many differences between US and Chinese digital platforms, but they all agree in their drive to register and control everyone's behaviour.

Bart Jacobs will elaborate on an alternative approach to electronic identities, starting from the idea of identity as a collection of personal properties (attributes), that can be disclosed selectively, depending on the context. By organising these attributes in a personal wallet app, exclusively on the phones of users, a new decentralised digital architecture emerges, based on privacy-protection and individual autonomy. Such an approach fits perfectly within the recent European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is being realised in an open source identity platform called IRMA. It demonstrates that there is an alternative and a choice, especially for Europe.

About the speaker

Bart Jacobs is Professor of Software Security and Correctness, Digital Security Group, Institute for Computing and Information Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

His research concentrates on theoretical and practical aspects of security. On the theoretical side, his focus is on quantum logic and probabilistic computation, supported by an ERC Advanced Grant, see also the EfProb Python library for probabilistic computation. On the practical side, he is interested in identity and privacy management, see eg. the IRMA project and video on attribute-based authentication, in security and privacy in personalised medicine (see the PEP technology), and in cyber security and intelligence and the broader societal aspects of computer security.

The event will be introduced by Gareth Mitchell, a  technology journalist, lecturer and former broadcast engineer.


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.