France to let citizens generate digital ID by scanning physical eID card with NFC smartphone

France digital ID card in hand coming out of  an NFC smartphone
CERTIFIED: French citizens will be able to store digital ID documents in a mobile app on their NFC phone

French citizens will soon be able to generate and store certified digital identification documents in a mobile app by scanning their physical Carte Nationale d’Identité Électronique (CNIE) eID card with their NFC smartphone.

The Digital Identify Guarantee Service (SGIN) application “will make it possible to use the civil status data of the card digitally to prove one’s identity in the digital world, and to have access to dedicated uses, including in the physical world,” the French government’s interdepartmental digital identity programme says.

At launch, the digital ID will enable users to access the 900 private and public online service providers connected to the FranceConnect platform, send certified electronic copies of their identity card, provide proof of age without being obliged to display other identity data and allow a trusted third party to collect packages on their behalf.

“Additional functionalities will then enrich the digital identity solution in the months and years to come, to enable French people to carry out an increasing number of digital procedures (for example, access their social benefits, protect their health data, sign a notarial deed, or make a proxy vote), without fear of having their identity or their identity data stolen.” the digital ID programme adds.

Official authorisation

The launch of the SGIN digital ID service was officially announced in a decree authorised by the French President Emmanuel Macron last week.

“The Minister of the Interior (General Secretariat) and the National Agency for Secure Documents (ANTS) are jointly authorized to implement an automated processing of personal data called Digital Identity Guarantee Service (SGIN),” the decree states.

“The purpose of this processing is to provide holders of a national identity card comprising the electronic component […] with a means of electronic identification allowing them to identify themselves and to authenticate with public or private organisations through an application that they install on their electronic communications terminal equipment allowing contactless reading of this component.

“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.”

At launch, only NFC CNIE cards issued since August 2021 will be compatible but the service will be extended to passports and residence permits “at the end of 2022”.

Both Greece and the Czech Republic announced in January that they are among other EU countries planning to roll out digital ID cards and mobile driving licences.

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