SPID, PEC, and electronic signatures aren’t anything too new. These issues and technologies related to digital identity definition have been around for several years now, a period that feels very long compared to the very rapid standards that we’re now all accustomed to thanks to Digital Transformation.
There is a new fact, however and a very decisive and unprecedented acceleration of everything related to this issue has been recorded. This acceleration is a product of the emergency period triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the dramatic phases we are leaving behind, the importance of streamlining a whole series of procedures, being able to carry them out remotely, securely, and digitally, has become apparent in all its urgency and necessity.
But that’s not all. We’ve all had the opportunity to see for ourselves how much time and effort we could save by performing certain activities online, authentication processes to access tax bonuses for one example, all in just a few clicks.
Well, it’s certain that this acceleration is certainly not running out, and it has yet to bear its ripest fruits, in terms of optimization, simplicity, savings of time and money…and also with integration with other digital aspects.
But let’s proceed in order and start by providing an initial definition of digital identity.
Digital identity – definition, types, characteristics
We’ll start from a somewhat preliminary level, which is well identified by the the official website of the Agency for Digital Italy (AGID) regarding “electronic identification”: “Electronic identification is a process where personal authentication data is used in electronic form to uniquely identify a natural person and a legal entity” (source: agid.gov.it).
But before we close in on the main types of digital identity, let’s put it another way. Digital identity is a set of information that identifies a specific person, within a specific computer system.
Not only that: digital identity makes it possible to establish that a specific person, at a specific time, is performing certain actions online.
To sum up: who, what, when. All, of course, subject to access with authentication credentials.
If the IT “behind the scenes” of digital identity involves even very complex technical aspects, which it is not the case to insist on here, its operational uses are now something that we are very familiar with.
Just think of the electronic signature, which is the counterpart of the physical signature…but which brings with it a whole range of additional advantages and opportunities, which we have summarized in this post.
Another type of electronic identification that we are all now perfectly accustomed to? Certified Electronic Mail (PEC), which uniquely identifies the sender and recipient of a message, thus assuming full and effective legal value.
And then there is SPID, which is the Public Digital Identity System.
There are 3 levels of security related to SPID:
- Level 2, referred to as “meaningful:” this is the most widely used and one that many of us are already using. It allows dual-factor identification, with a “disposable” password (One Time Password), generally distributed by text message or through the dedicated apps of the different providers.
- Level 3, defined as “high:” this guarantees the highest level of reliability; authentication requires, in addition to the pair of user and password credentials, also the use of cryptographic keys, which can reside on a smart card, or on an HSM device to be accessed remotely.
And after the definitions of digital identity, let’s move on to discuss its deployment in Italy.
Digital identity – trends, data, numbers
Now, as anticipated, let’s look at some up-to-date data on the diffusion of SPID digital identities in Italy.
This is the official data that comes from the Agency for Digital Italy (source: agid.gov.it).
- As of May 2022, the total number of SPID digital identities in Italy exceeded 30 million.
- Of these 30 million, as many as 10 million (thus, one-third) have been activated in the previous 12 months, with a trend that continues to accelerate sharply.
- Accesses through SPID to use Public Administration services exceeded half a billion in 2021. In the first four months of 2022 there were about 330 million. The trend, again, is one of strong and unequivocal growth.
- Then there is the issue of the CIE, the Electronic Identity Card: at this time, Italians in possession of the CIE are already over the number of 28 million.
And finally, here are statements from Vittorio Colao, Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition:
“We have already reached the annual digital identity diffusion target set by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (equal to 38% of the population), and we’re getting closer and closer to the 2023 target (46% of the population). This is a key piece in continuing the path of digitization, and thanks to this widespread deployment the state will be able to offer even more efficient and user-friendly public services, thus improving the relationship of citizens and businesses with the public administration. This will also be possible thanks to the interventions that local and central PAs are initiating with great participation, in line with the timing of the PNRR” (source: ansa.it).
SPID Digital Identity for minors – a focus
After a few definitions of Digital Identity and a quick look at the numbers and trends, now let’s look at digital identity for minors. This is a very sensitive topic, especially regarding security (which has increasing degrees) and data protection.
Warning. While the average age of the Italian population has been rising for quite some time now, the number of citizens under the age of 18 makes up about 16% of the total, according to the latest Istat data (source: openpolis.it).
To get a more precise idea, we’re talking about 9.8 million boys and girls. For the 0 – 14 age group, the total is about 7.6 million.
This explains the importance of the issue of Digital Identity for minors as well, an audience that is far from negligible.
In this regard, some recent updates have been issued by the Digital Italy Agency’s Determination No. 51 of March 3, 2022.
According to these guidelines, then, boys and girls in the age group of 5 to 14 years will be allowed to obtain and use the SPID identity to access digital services, always under parental supervision.
It will start with an experimental period of initial application, which will end on June 30, 2023. During this time period, online services provided by educational institutions of all levels are the only ones that will be active. How to apply for SPID for minors?
Of course, parents will be able to do this by going directly to their provider and logging in with credentials. All of the major identity providers are preparing everything necessary to enable this functionality.
An important specification is that minors will not be obliged to communicate a cell phone number to the provider for SPID. In this case, security-related communications will go through the parent’s phone number.
Not just compliance-the opportunities of integration
We will conclude this post with a side that is particularly close to our hearts. When we talk about digitization and Public Administration, we must avoid a still widespread mistake: that of limiting ourselves to fulfillment.
We have already pointed out the great advantages that lurk in the transition to digital identity: saving time and money, increased efficiency and security. But there is one additional key word that you should always keep in mind: integration.
This is a key theme that is as decisive as ever when we move from the realm of individuals to that of companies. And we’ll explain right away.
With the tools offered by specialized companies such as Doxee, you can integrate electronic signature solutions with identification through SPID. This is a natural and innovative evolution of signature processes, which are so very useful on multiple fronts, not least of which is contracting.
In short, it’s about addressing the most complete document dematerialization. This starts with different kinds of fulfillments, sure. It starts with obligations of the regulator. But the end point can and must be a real revolution involving everything related to document archiving, hence CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and CCM (Customer Communication Management).
What really matters is that companies embrace a broad and all-encompassing view. Because Digital Transformation offers its most interesting fruits when it is mature, when it takes the form of a real change of mindset, and not when it merely accelerates certain processes or, worse, when it is only bandied about as a slogan.
All of the cards are on the table. The tools are there and so are the facilities from the regulator. Also, don’t forget that, in this case, everyone wins: the public administration, companies in every production sector, and individuals. With the digital turnaround, the view is always win-win. Now all we need to do is to set the virtuous circle in motion!