Certified email

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Certified email is a particular kind of email which has the same legal validity of a registered mail.[1] For each certified email, the government will guarantee the legal validity with a delivery receipt given to the sender. The receiver will be able to verify the mail using a legally signed delivery receipt. Certified mail aims to reduce postal costs and difficulties.


The development of this email service shows conceptual variations. These 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. Just like in traditional certified 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.[2] There are, however, some applications based on multi-party email protocols; these include the technology originally proposed by Markowitch and Kremer, which involves an online or offline TTP in addition to the sender and receiver.[3] 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.[4]

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[5].

In the world[edit]

A certified email system is currently used in Hong Kong,[6] Switzerland[7] and Italy.[8]


The Italian certified email (Posta elettronica certificata, PEC) has been established in 2005[9] 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, communications between enterprises and public administrations should happen through PEC, as documents in paper form are no longer accepted.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Certified Email". Agenzia per l'Italia Digitale. Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri.
  2. ^ Zhou, Jianying; Kang, Meng Chow; Bao, Feng; Pang, Hwee-Hwa (2005). Applied Public Key Infrastructure: 4th International Workshop: IWAP 2005. Amsterdam: IOS Press. p. 80. ISBN 1586035509.
  3. ^ Lopez, Javier; Okamoto, Eiji (2004). Information and Communications Security: 6th International Conference, ICICS 2004, Malaga, Spain, October 27-29, 2004. Proceedings. Berlin: Springer. p. 40. ISBN 3540235639.
  4. ^ 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. p. 1. ISBN 9783540309345.
  5. ^ 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).
  6. ^ "GovHK: Electronic Authentication & Digital Certificates". www.gov.hk. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  7. ^ "IncaMail". La Posta (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-12-24.
  8. ^ "Posta elettronica certificata – PEC". Linea Amica (in Italian). Italian government. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Posta elettronica certificata". Agenzia per l'Italia digitale. Italian government. Retrieved 2018-12-24.