MEF this week published a new whitepaper examining the success seen in Italy’s national digital identity scheme, SPID – MEF’s advisor on personal data and identity Andrew Parkin-White explains why the case study is of importance in advancing the concept of digital identity globally.
We are seeing a proliferation of digital identity schemes globally and these schemes are becoming instrumental in how a national deployment can happen. Italy has been very successful with its digital identity schemes – SPID, Public System of Digital Identity, and CIE, Electronic Identity Card, are two identity schemes notified to the European Commission and is regulated by the eIDAS European scheme.
Naturally, rolling out a national digital identity scheme is no easy undertaking and Italy is no exception. There are many hurdles to overcome and these take time, the involvement of multiple parties and legal and regulatory issues.
SPID is key to providing access to online public and private services. The initial technical rules took 1.5 years to establish and there was initially a slow rate growth which then then grew organically with more services added“
SPID is key to providing access to online public and private services. The initial technical rules took 1.5 years to establish and there was initially a slow rate growth which then then grew organically with more services added.
Launching in 2016 and by July 2021 had 23m identities, adding 14m identities in last 14 months alone with covid fueling the growth with services being accessible online. The Italian government’s target is to achieve a penetration level of 40m identities by extending the reach of the service to under-represented groups of the population.
Underlying the SPID’s design is a public-private partnership and a system that does not cost money to the state but has the participation of private organisations and open private and public providers – there are nine of these of which 8 are private. The basic service is free of charge and providers can charge for additional services from a controlled price list.
Multiple private companies offering an interoperable product has brought a positive effect on user take up and increased market penetration.
The most heavily used service is for the national retirement system (social service). Second are interactions with public administrations, for example for the payment of taxes.
The Italian government has incentivised this uptake through voucher campaigns, development programmes and a digital transformation team to implement the digital agenda supervised by the Ministry of Innovation.
A second scheme in operation in Italy is t based on the Electronic Identity Card (Carta d’Identità Elettronica or CIE). It has a similar protocol to SPID Unlike SPID but CIE has only one level of authentication. Although CIE is not compulsory it has seen widescale adoption with now , more than 22 million citizens having one, With an around 7.5 million cards per year, it is expected to reach the entire population in few years.
There have been broad and varied challenges associated with digital identity in Italy that have improved the user experience and the success of the scheme boils down to three fundamental points – firstly, the success of adopting an incentive-based solution. Secondly, that it has been possible to introduce a federated model and finally, there is clear separation of user data. The service continues to evolve and there will be a definite focus on aligning the Italian scheme with the new EU directive of federation. The scheme is not without its challenges and the economic model is the principal one.