France Identity, a further step towards a reliable and solid digital identification

Will the France Identity application have the same success as its big brother France Connect, a public identification device on the Internet launched in June 2016? Based on an inter-ministerial program, France Identity will ultimately make it possible to prove its identity online, thanks to the NFC chip found on biometric identity cards, in circulation since the summer of 2021. But for the time being, it is preparing a hospitalization, making a power of attorney or Opening a bank account is only available procedures for those who are equipped with a smartphone that uses the Android operating system and has the NFC functionality for short-distance communication. Because France Identity is still in the testing phase.

France is lagging behind its European neighbors and intends to launch new digital services, such as the ability to more easily prove its identity on the Internet or during physical procedures, with the possibility of revealing only certain information, for example to prove its majority. And forget Alicem, the project started in 2013, which planned to use face recognition, abandoned after especially warnings from Cnil.

Will France Identity be able to replace the CNI-e?

So far, the data remains stored in the NFC chip on the biometric identity card. But, as Marc Nolain, director of the company AriadNext, points out to AFP, “by 2022 you should be able to derive your identity card completely from your phone”, following the model of contactless mobile payments or Apple Wallet available in the United States . This is also a wish of Brussels, which wants to install its European digital portfolio permanently.

Note that a survey conducted by the company Thalès, conducted in December 2021 on this same European digital wallet, concluded that 85% of French people were ready to use it. Citizens therefore say “yes”, but France Identity still has a long way to go to guarantee data security. In its current format, “the application is not very useful,” said Hervé Bonazzi, director of the Archipelago company, a joint venture created by La Poste, EDF, Engie and Caisse des dépôts. Nevertheless, it is a necessary and essential document for the future of digital identity in Europe “, which according to him must ultimately succeed in” creating the connection between different data about you “with the CPR number, the mutual, the certified income …

What should France Identity be used for?

France Identity will be the first application in France to provide a “high” level of digital identification guarantee, in accordance with the reference framework of the European e-IDAS Regulation. This level is not yet required by any online service, but it should ultimately provide access to health data, development of fully dematerialized power of attorney or even electronic voting.

Meanwhile, France Identity will provide access to France Connect, the portal currently used by more than 37 million people to pay their taxes, view their pension rights or the rest of the points on their driving licenses. But also for France Connect +, its version, which requires a “significant” guarantee level for, for example, opening an online banking account. Today, only La Poste’s “Digital Identity” has received this certification from Anssi, which guarantees the security of information systems, and new private applications are being certified.

Another functionality in France Identity, the only one available to date, allows you to produce digital one-time proofs of identity, to avoid sending copies of the original document, for example when renting an apartment: one of the most common sources of identity theft.

False start on the Apple environment?

While the official France Identity Twitter account on Monday announced in a very mysterious tweet that it was necessary to follow keynote Apple’s WWDC to see what’s new, followers was disappointed: no trace of support under iOS16 for the French digital identity card.

The rumored integration in the Maps app, aka Wallet, circulated rapidly just before the start of the keynote at 7pm on Monday, before being denied by France Identity. And finally, Apple did not announce anything. The app’s official Twitter finally mentioned the development of France Identity under the Apple brand: an iOS application is being prepared so that iPhone users can also benefit from these new services.

What are the privacy risks?

The use of France Identity will remain strictly optional and “is not intended to replace alternative means, paper forms or counters”, the government promises.

“This is where we remain very vigilant,” notes Bastien Le Querrec, a member of the Association for the Defense of Freedoms in the Digital Age La Quadrature du net, who wants these physical alternatives not to be “deterrent”. “Through this phenomenon of excessive dematerialisation of public services, we are in the process of forcing citizens to undergo digital identity.” And “who says digital identity says creating a file in his name with his photo, date of birth …”, he adds. Another risk, it can “lead to a multitude of cases where you will be asked to prove your identity”.

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