With the advent of digital technology, more and more public and private services are going digital. However, these online services often require digital identification to access functionalities. Many factors accelerate the need for remote authentication and identity verification. However, these procedures need to be secure to avoid any attempts at usurpation and fraud. To meet this need, the French government has created France Identité.
An application to prove your identity online
France Identité is an application that enables all French citizens to identify themselves securely and reliably online. Currently in beta phase with a few testers, this application will enable you to prove your identity using the data contained in your electronic identity card (CNIe to be launched in 2021) and stored in the said Application on your smartphone.
The identification process is designed to be quick and easy. Once the application has been downloaded, users scan their electronic ID and then verify it by scanning the NFC chip it contains using their phone’s sensor. Next, the user must prove that he or she is the rightful owner, using facial recognition (biometrics). Once his identity has been verified, he will be able to provide proof of his identity (age, name, address) if required, using his telephone.
“The solution to simplify and secure your paperwork […] No more ID card scans” is the promise of this solution.
France Identité has been designed to offer a reliable and secure online identification solution. Users of this application benefit from enhanced security, as their identity can be proven without having to provide the precise details of their ID, or even their ID itself! This solution minimizes the exchange of personal data, particularly identity data, to ensure secure access to online services.
Prove your age, pick up a parcel: from now on, you’ll be able to do these things without showing your ID. Security is therefore enhanced, because we don’t “give away” our coin and identity data to third parties who may be malicious. The ultimate aim is to reduce the number of identity frauds and the consequences they can have for both companies and victims.
In addition to enhanced security and simplicity, France Identité also offers a solution that complies with European standards for electronic identification. This solution complies with the European Union’s eIDAS regulation, which guarantees the interoperability and mutual recognition of electronic identities within the Union.
Despite France Identité’s promises, this service also has its limitations. First of all, identity verification must involve face-to-face contact. Gone is the 100% “remote” solution initially promised thanks to automatic facial recognition. The government has chosen to abandon this solution at the expense of the user experience, who must physically meet an agent to validate his or her identity. Thus, facial recognition via Artificial Intelligence has been abandoned in favor of “classic” enrolment capitalizing on a physical encounter, the modalities of which are currently being tested.
This application can only be used by French citizens, which means that foreigners residing in France cannot benefit from this online identification solution. It requires a latest-generation smartphone (iOS or Android only) with NFC technology to scan the card.
Last but not least, we’ve been testing for over a year now, and a number of bugs have been reported on certain smartphones, leading us to fear that the test phase will be lengthened and the official launch delayed. For the time being, only 5,000 testers are benefiting from the application, a far cry from the ambition of 20,000 at launch.
In conclusion, France Identité is a promising program supported by the French government, which will offer a solution guaranteeing total control over identity data. But a number of points of friction, both in the user experience and in the technology used, are likely to delay the official launch. It remains to be seen how the application will be received by French citizens: will it be a success? Will the application be used on a massive scale, becoming the standard for proof of identity? Or will it be used by a marginal segment of the population?