Research on the Finnish national ID number system


My master's thesis for NTNU was about the Finnish national identification number (henkilötunnus), and the systems closely related to it. At the time in spring 2018, Finland was looking to reform the system, so it was the perfect timing for such a thesis. My prior knowledge about the topic was very basic, but I took the challenge to delve deep and learn everything I could about it, as well as design and and present my proposals for improvements to the system within five months.

The thesis project was divided into three parts: historical developments, current status, and future considerations. Much of the research was conducted by combining information from various different documents, reports, and news articles. My goal was to gain a good understading of the system and its current issues before considering its future. In March I attended a public seminar in Helsinki, courtesy of the reformation project group. The seminar covered the status of the project, which was still in its early stages and listening to different ideas and viewpoints.

After the seminar I began to focus on a few key issues in the system and develop proposals to fix them, based on my prior research and comparisons to equivalent systems in other Nordic countries. Proposals concerned the reforming the ID number itself, use of biometrics and decentralization of personal information in the system. Finally, the thesis was read through and commented by two experts in the field before it was published in June 2018.