Diritto & Internet

Various points emerging from the UNCITRAL meeting on digital online identity on a global scale

On 10th June at the University of Bologna, a number of representatives of the UN Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) met with a group of academic experts and spokespersons representing the web corporations Google and AliBaba. The common goal of the meeting was to concentrate on identifying a basis for activating a shared process for defining global rules for online identification.

In her introduction, Giusella Finocchiaro, organizer of the event in her role as Full Professor at the University of Bologna and President of UNCITRAL Working Group lV on Electronic Commerce, emphasized that the “objective” aspect of identity was that which requires regulating first and foremost, namely what the law must guarantee in order to allow the formal recognition of individuals. A more detailed explanation on the difference between subjective and objective identity can be found in her presentation, which can be accessed HERE.

In Europe the problem of identification online has been solved with the European Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market. So, a single law for the 28 Member States, which has achieved the legal and technical interoperability of the electronic tools for identification, authentication and signature (eIDAS) in the countries of the European Union. Andrea Servida, from DG CONNECT, European Commission, Head of the eIDAS Task Force, outlined the principles of how it works in his address. His presentation can be downloaded HERE.

Eric A. Caprioli, attorney at the Court of Paris and member of the French delegation to the UNCITRAL Working Group on Electronic Commerce, stressed that the aim must be a single global system and not harmonization of the existing systems. With this in mind, the Group’s work should focus on defining a “model law” which sets out the basic minimum requirements for authentication, as it were, a lowest common denominator compatible with individual national legislative frameworks. His address is summed up in the presentation which can be downloaded HERE.

As mentioned by Xue Hong, Full Professor of law at Beijing Normal University, director of the Institute for BNU Internet Policy & Law (IIPL), digital identification on a global scale will have to take into account the new requirements which have emerged from the web, such as the purchase and sale of property and rights of an entirely digital nature, such as mailboxes, websites, virtual objects, copyright and so on. Her address examined this point in depth in THIS presentation.

Andrea Stazi, the head of Public Policy and Government Relations of Google Italy, underlined the need to predict the difficulties in managing digital identity in relation to the protection of privacy. However, Ala Musi, the China Electronic Commerce Association Policy & Law Committee Deputy Director of AliBaba, emphasized the importance of establishing the limits of legal responsibility of e-commerce platforms that operate worldwide. His presentation can be downloaded HERE.

The summing up by the Secretary of the UNCITRAL Working Group on Electronic Commerce, Luca Castellani, brought the conference to a close.

The Bologna meeting marked the beginning of a process of sharing of ideas by international experts on the issue of the regulation of digital identity on a global scale. The task of finding guidelines for a single system will now be put in the hands of the UNCITRAL Working Group.


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Scientific Director
Prof. Avv. Giusella Finocchiaro
Editorial Curator
Dott. Giulia Giapponesi