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France announces user-controlled mobile digital identity app for use with national ID

France announces user-controlled mobile digital identity app for use with national ID

France announces a new system for proving digital identity via a smartphone, while formally discontinuing the ill-fated Alicem app of 2019.

Called “Service de garantie de l’identité numérique” (SGIN) (“Digital Identity Guarantee Service”), the system for automating the processing of personal information is jointly authorized by the Minister of the Interior (General Secretariat) and the National Agency for Secure Documents (ANTS).

The app element serves as a smartphone extension of their electronic Carte Nationale d’Identité (CNIe). The app will authenticate a person’s identity for accessing both public and private-sector services and use the smartphone’s NFC reader to scan users’ biometric identity cards.

The official announcement describes the details of the new app. SGIN will be based on the biographic data held in the new French ID cards launched in August 2021. It will only work with the new credit card-sized CNIe with embedded chip, rather than the previous CNI.

It will not access the card holder’s biometrics, in France’s case images of two fingerprints. It is also not compulsory and allows card-holders to be selective as to what data fields they share for any transaction:

“The application allows the user, in particular, to generate electronic certificates comprising only the identity attributes which he considers necessary to transmit to third parties of his choice.”

The previous attempt at an identity verification system with mobile capabilities, Alicem, fell foul of disputes over its use of facial recognition and was curtailed by the data regulator, CNIL.

The decree also stipulates how long data can be kept. It has been developed in light of EU regulations on digital identity and the free movement of data. The new approach was announced just two days after Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as president for a second term.

The contract is based on a contract awarded to iDAKTO, Idemia, Atos and Sopra Steria last year. Idemia subsequently won a contract to make French ID cards readable with smartphones through NFC.

This post was updated at 4:08pm Eastern on April 29, 2022 with confirmation of contract details from iDAKTO.

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