Will the mobile ID be the right one for the legalized signature?

On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, the Ministry of Communication Technology launched Mobile ID, the first digital identity in Tunisia. It is a simplified and secure means of access to a set of online administrative services available on government portals and on the platform dedicated to digital identity.

According to the Minister of Communications Technology, Nizar Ben Néji, the first use case available on the Mobile ID platform is the birth certificate. Citizens now have the opportunity to obtain an electronic version of this document, which is, it should be noted, certified by the National Electronic Certification Agency (ANCE/TunTrust) and has a QR code. It also carries a civil status identifier assigned at birth and will serve as an identity document for people who do not have a national identity card. The electronic birth certificate will be issued free of charge until the end of the year during the Mobile ID test phase. The mobile application to which this service is linked will be operational from next week.

Obtaining a birth certificate online must, let’s remember, be done since 2016. The former head of government, Youssef Chahed, had announced it with great fanfare, but it took six years before our politicians managed to overcome the opposition. Technology and skills, wherever available, resistance to change – often in these cases motivated by fear of potential job losses – have long hindered the launch of this service and several other related projects.

The implementation of Mobile ID is a victory for the overall effort to this end. However, the project risks once again encountering this resistance to digitalisation. According to the Minister of Communication Technology, this cornerstone of the digitization of administrative services, Mobil-ID, will also make it possible to use the electronic signature to sign and obtain official documents without having to travel to the municipalities to suffer one of the biggest deviations from the Tunisian administration; the famous legalized signature or the genuine copy. Sir. Ben Néji wants to get rid of deep-rooted bureaucratic bureaucratic bureaucracy, which is unlikely to disappear in the near future for quite simple but understandable reasons: first of all, resistance to change – with all its factors, whether it is values ​​of people and their beliefs, the nature of the change, the identity of its bearer or even the strategy used to implement it – and above all, the lack of technological culture.

For many, the legalized signature and the true copy are the safest mechanisms to ensure the authenticity of certain official documents such as diplomas and thus minimize document fraud and forgery, especially as fraudsters are increasingly innovating more in terms of the means used. The bearers of this belief – out of ignorance or intellectual laziness – also claim that technology could not replace human intelligence, forgetting that technological progress has made it possible today to introduce exceptional tools to secure documents.

A few months ago, Tunisia and several other countries had experience with the implementation of health passports and vaccination certificates against, among other things, Covid-19. These documents and many others carry a square graphic called a QR code. This information medium, in which several encrypted data can be integrated – corresponding to approximately half an A4 text page – makes it possible not only to have this data quickly, but also to secure it and certify the authenticity of the documents on which it is applied. , because, it knows, tamper proof. The QR code, also called a digital stamp, is generated using a two-key cryptographic process – one private and one public – which makes it reliable.

Those resistant to digitization and change in general are widely present in our municipalities and our administrations and risk putting spokes in the wheels by using an effective tool; our laws, archaic.

Mobile ID, it should be noted, is still in the testing phase. However, it is available and to dispose of it, just fill the form on the mobile-id.tn portal and then go to one of your operator’s sales offices for the confirmation stage. The mobile application dedicated to this service will be launched next week.

Nadya Jennene

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