France Digital identity wants to forget about Alicem

With regard to digital identity, the government is moving forward in measured steps: after the failure of Alicem’s solution based on face recognition and considered too intrusive by its detractors, the succession is announced by the publication of a decree defining the implementation of France Digital. Identification service. Along with a website explaining the concept, this new service will be available to citizens with a digital ID. These new ID cards have an electronic chip used to store certain identification details of the holder and will begin to be issued to citizens requesting to renew their card during 2021.

Service reserved for recent inserters

Thus, the first holders of this new card can become the first beneficiaries of France’s digital identity service. According to the dedicated website, this will take the form of a mobile application that will allow the user to perform administrative procedures and “authenticate on the Internet with the same security as a paper ID in the real world.” Among the first intended use cases, the government mentions “providing proof of age without the obligation to provide other attributes of identity” (which could be especially useful if France intends to make access to adult sites conditional on the provision of proof of age). , or even “manage the proxy to get the packet out of the relay point”.

Thus, in order to use the service, users will need a smart card to prove their identity, a PIN code used to authorize the use of the data stored on the card, and finally, a mobile phone application that will serve as an interface in order to allow or not allow access to certain online procedures. The app will be available “in early May in beta,” according to a tweet posted by France Identity last week.

Green light from CNIL

The regulation governing this new service was published last week in the Official Journal. The CNIL has also expressed its opinion on the project through two opinions available in the legal notices of the France Identity Digital website.

While the CNIL clearly highlights several provisions of the law regarding, for example, the updating of impact studies associated with the project, it nonetheless expresses a very positive view of the project: “The Commission welcomes this project, which it notes is the culmination of extensive discussions with ministry and allows the development of a high-level sovereign digital identity that respects user privacy,” she explains, as well as in her December 9, 2021 opinion.

Alice’s bad memory

The Commission of the Nationale Informatique et Libertés has been far less gentle with France Identity Numerique’s predecessor, the Alicem project. The latter considered using facial recognition to register new users and verify their identity, without offering an alternative to those who have abandoned this technology.

This choice prompted the CNIL to speak critically of the decision, and the topic evoked a certain response from the public, generating numerous criticisms. Alisem died before he could actually see the light, as the France Identity Numerique website confirms: “during various consultations with citizens, a certain public distrust of this technology has arisen,” the authors explain, citing a CNNum consultation, as well as a parliamentary information mission. by digital identification.

With this first setback in mind, the government decided to opt for “developing the most inclusive user journeys possible”: in this way, France Digital Identity abandons facial recognition entirely. “Therefore, the Alicem app has been definitively abandoned in favor of an initial registration based on secure face-to-face communication at the city hall at the time of the title issuance,” the platform summarizes.

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