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Multiplatform digital signature? The Ministry is moving.

The recent Decree transposing the Government's EU directive on Digital Signatures has aroused bitter criticism from jurists and IT law experts. The www.interlex.it Portal has defined the text of the Decree confused with unnecessary changes and errors , has even traced constitutional doubts. A scheme that destroys the Italian regulatory framework that re-launches the "Digital Signature" issue into chaos. Furthermore, no specific reference to the Operating Systems involved, thus leaving the field free for Digital Signature certifiers who use Microsoft platforms only. In light of these problems, several Mac users joined by the POC (PowerBook Owners Club) mailing list "Poctalk", at the suggestion of Edoardo Volpi Kellerman, have decided to raise awareness of the current Minister Lucio Stanca (former IBM number one Italy) with a massive email campaign, asking for a certain answer regarding accessibility to the Digital Signature by users of non-Microsoft Operating Systems.Volpi himself, during a radio broadcast, urged the Minister with a request for clarification on the matter (download the audio document in MP3 format) which with a vague but reassuring answer, it seemed to remove any doubt about the availability of the Ministry to make the digital signature universally accessible regardless of the platform used.

From the Ministry comes a further confirmation of "opening" to alternative systems to Microsoft. The External Relations and Communications Office of the Minister for Innovation and Technologies has in fact replied to all the members of POCTalk protagonists of the initiative with clear and timely references regarding the problems of Digital Signature and the various Operating Systems. the message from the Ministry received by the editor.

Dear Mr. Belcastro, I refer to your e-mail to the Minister for Innovation and Technologies relating to the platforms for the "digital signature".

We need to distinguish the two aspects, technological and legal, of the question you posed.

From a technological point of view, the digital signature certifiers in the public list are authorized to issue certificates for the signature equivalent to the handwritten subscription. These certificates, together with the private key, essential for digital subscription, are then distributed securely within the signature device such as a smart card.

The smart card and the certificate have no a priori connection with the operating environment of use. As part of their autonomous market choices, the certifiers have primarily developed or acquired products for affixing the digital signature in certain operating environments, such as Windows, on the basis of their own assessments of market demand.

As there is no technological limitation for other operating environments, such as Linux or Macintosh (MAC / OS), it is possible for software vendors to make digital signature tools available for them too.

As for the legal profile, the regulation on digital signature already in force does not contain provisions that prevent or to some extent impede the use of operating environments other than Windows. Also on this level, therefore, it can be said that the development of signature products that can be used in this operating environment is the result of spontaneous market dynamics.

The Minister for Innovation and Technologies has proposed the new legislation on electronic signatures in implementation of the community discipline. Legislation approved for the part relating to general principles and pending approval for the regulatory part. This legislation not only continues to be "technologically neutral", but is intended to give a strong boost to the market in this sector by eliminating the need for prior authorization for market access by signature certifiers and recognizing validity and legal effectiveness also to the new figure of the so-called "light" signature.

Finally, as is known, it is emphasized that the principles for the protection of competition do not allow real direct State aid to the benefit of certain companies or their products / services.

However, I would like to inform you that the Department for Innovation and Technologies, on the initiative of the Minister, will raise awareness of the Associators on the subject.

Best regards.

Francesco Leopardi Dittaiuti

External Relations and Communications Office of the Minister for Innovation and Technologies

(By Rudy Belcastro)