Ego sum qui sum

You may know who you are, but how do I know that you really are who you say you are? How, in other words, can you be identified as an individual, and how are you going to prove this identity. 
Professor Jane Caplan)

When Moses asks him what his name is, God answers him - at least according to the Latin tradition -: Ego sum qui sum "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14)This answer seems to have generated no doubt for Moses as to the identity of his interlocutor. Mortals, however, have spent our entire history trying to figure out how to identify ourselves and prove our identity in front of third parties. 

That challenge is, probably and without exaggeration, the greatest that our digital revolution faces that, twenty-four years after the publication of the most reproduced cartoon of the New Yorker that already distant summer of 1993, the one that remains unresolved. "No one on the Internet knows that you are a dog" with all the terrible practical consequences, cybercrimes of all kinds and technical, legal, regulatory and philosophical debates that this entails. 

Ego sum qui sum

After years of being blindsided, the electronic signature directive of 1999 and the consequent scattered local regulations included, the European Commission understood a few years ago that these regulations did not offer a global cross-border and intersectoral framework capable of guaranteeing secure, reliable and efficient electronic transactions. easy to use. The Commission understood that a new strategy and approach was necessary to overcome the challenge of online identification and that global and homogeneous solutions were necessary. And it is of no use that we all have an "electronic" ID if no one uses it and if the few who use / use advanced electronic signature certificates cannot use it outside of this small "neighborhood" of the global village in which we live and, In addition, and despite this electronic ID, if we continue to write down endless lists of different passwords in our agendas that we do not stop forgetting - and the providers to reestablish ourselves with all the costs and risks that this implies - to access the increasingly essential services of the information society that we need every day. 

Thus, the European Commission (has recognized that the  E-Identification It is a fundamental tool to guarantee the protection of personal data and to prevent online fraud and it is to be praised that in the face of the preponderance granted in certain areas - such as financial - to identification based on the physical presence of people and “physical” documents, the electronic identification provided for in the Regulation 910/2014 of July 23, 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93 / EC (EIDAS Regulation) is set to become the standard. 

However, certain inconsistencies and anachronisms regulated in the money laundering prevention regulations that are holding back the development of new electronic financial services and the Fintech industry remain to be overcome. In this sense, there must be a coherent response regarding the new videoconference identification mechanisms already offered by many providers, such as the Spanish ones. Electronic ID and it is essential that the proposal that the electronic identification mechanisms of the eIDAS Regulation be recognized among the due diligence measures with respect to the client referred to in article 13 of the Fourth Directive on the Prevention of Money Laundering (Directive 2015/849 , May 20, 2015 or 4th AML Directive) which continues to give precedence to the identification of the client and the verification of his identity on the basis of documents, data or information obtained from reliable and independent sources. 

It is also essential that progress is made in the interoperability of the electronic DNIs of the different Member States because otherwise it will be useless for all Europeans to have an electronic DNI in our portfolio if we cannot, know or want to use it and if it is not operational outside our increasingly limited national borders. 

And, all of the above, without forgetting the enormous possibilities that blockchain offers. The newly created red lyra is a good example of this. 

Leaving these "rich problems" aside, 1.500 billion people live without an officially recognized identity and as the initiative ID2020  states that without identity these people are totally vulnerable and susceptible to all kinds of discrimination. 

The problem does not have an easy solution and for those who wish to delve into it, the reflections on the matter made by the Global Identity Foundation by Paul Simmonds. Videos of "Tom" included! 

The debate on identity is one of the great quixotic debates and, if at this point in the summer any of the blog readers have not chosen their summer reading, I would recommend that you reread Don Quixote where - as many experts have written - it is it can go a long way in the identity debate. And it is that, ravings of all kinds aside, Don Quixote was always clear about who he was and his "I am who I am" is repeated in several chapters of the novel and it is that despite his perhaps erroneous perception of reality, Don Quixote never had doubts about his identity: 

Look at your mercy, sir, my sinner, that I am not Don Rodrigo de Narváez, nor the Marquis of Mantua, but Pedro Alonso, your neighbor; Neither is your grace Valdovinos, nor Abindarráez, but the honored hidalgo of Señor Quijana.
I know who I am Don Quixote replied, "and I know that I can be, not only those I have said, but all the Twelve Peers of France, and even all the Nine of Fame, because to all the feats that they all together and each one for himself they did will outdo mine.
(Quixote I, 5)

PD: Article inspired by the presentation Fintech OnLine identification: solutions and challenges given by the author at the 30th Conference organized by Privacy Laws & Business "Promoting Privacy with Innovation" which took place at St. John's College, Cambridge (UK) on July 5, 2017. The video of the presentation is available here:   

© Javier Fernandez-Samaniego, 2017

Ego sum qui sum

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About the Author

Javier Fernández-Samaniego

Javier Fernández-Samaniego

Managing Partner of Samaniego Law, a law firm specializing in conflict resolution and new technology law. Member of the Academic Council of Fide

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