Certified email (known as Posta elettronica certificata in Italy, or PEC in short) is a special type of email in use in Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Germany. Certified email is meant to provide a legal equivalent of the traditional registered mail: by paying a small fee, users are able to legally prove that a given email has been sent and received.
A certified email can only be sent using a special Certified Email Account provided by a registered provider. When a certified email is sent, the sender's provider will release a receipt of the successful (or failed) transaction. This receipt has legal value and it includes precise information about the time the certified email was sent. Similarly, the receiver's provider will deliver the message in the appropriate certified email account and will then release to the sender a receipt of successful (or failed) delivery, indicating on this receipt the exact time of delivery. If either of these two receipts are lost by the sender, providers are required to issue a proof of transaction with equal legal validity, if this proof is requested within 30 months of delivery.
The development of this email service has conceptual variations that are dominated by two-party scenarios with only one sender and one receiver as well as a trusted third party (TTP) serving as a mediator. As in traditional registered mail, many certified email technologies call for the parties involved to trust the TTP, or the "postman", because it has the capacity to reveal the identity of the sender to the recipient once the protocol is initiated. There are, however, some applications based on multi-party email protocols; these include the technology originally proposed by Markowitch and Kremer, that involves an online or offline TTP in addition to the sender and receiver. There is also a multi-party version, wherein a user can send the same email to multiple recipients. In this system, those who acknowledge the receipt are able to view the data. Some applications also offer add-in features, such as the integration of the concept of timeliness, wherein a participant to the process can terminate a session in finite time in order to avoid waiting for a reply forever.
The mediation of a trusted third party (TTP) requires both parties, the sender and the recipient, to come to terms in approving who will be the mediator. In compliance scenarios, where a regulation may simply require a party to deliver a notice to a given recipient and be able to prove having done so (i.e. GDPR), the role of a TTP can be trusted to an electronic registered delivery service capable to secure timestamped evidence of the contents and delivery of the electronic message, without the recipient's intervention.
Certified Email in Italy
The Italian certified email (Posta elettronica certificata, PEC) was established in 2005 and it uses protocols described in the RFC 6109 (Request for Comments 6109), which was drafted in order to make the protocols public to the Internet community.
Since July 1 of 2013, all communication between enterprises and the Italian public administration is required to be sent through PEC and paper documents are no longer accepted.
Anyone may register a PEC address through a certified provider or reseller.
- "Posta elettronica certificata – PEC". Linea Amica (in Italian). Italian government. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- "IncaMail". La Posta (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-12-24.
- "GovHK: Electronic Authentication & Digital Certificates". www.gov.hk. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- "De-Mail – einfach verschlüsselt und nachweisbar". www.cio.bund.de (in German). Retrieved 2019-09-22.
- Zhou, Jianying; Kang, Meng Chow; Bao, Feng; Pang, Hwee-Hwa (2005). Applied Public Key Infrastructure: 4th International Workshop: IWAP 2005. Amsterdam: IOS Press. pp. 80. ISBN 1586035509.
- Lopez, Javier; Okamoto, Eiji (2004). Information and Communications Security: 6th International Conference, ICICS 2004, Malaga, Spain, October 27-29, 2004. Proceedings. Berlin: Springer. pp. 40. ISBN 3540235639.
- Qing, Sihan; Mao, Wenbo; Lopez, Javier; Wang, Guilin (2005). Information and Communications Security: 7th International Conference, ICICS 2005, Beijing, China, December 10-13, 2005, Proceedings. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 1. ISBN 9783540309345.
- Carlos Tico (2012). Method, a system and a computer program product for certifying that a destination email server has received an email message sent from a sender to at least one destination address. US Patent 9,742,722 B2 (2017) and EP2805455B1 (2018).
- "Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 11 febbraio 2005, n. 68" (PDF). Agenzia per l'Italia Digitale (in Italian). 2005-02-11.
Regolamento recante disposizioni per l'utilizzo della posta elettronica certificata, a norma dell'articolo 27 della legge 16 gennaio 2003, n. 3.
- "Posta elettronica certificata". Agenzia per l'Italia digitale. Italian government. Retrieved 2018-12-24.