Let's try to imagine how many times in a typical day it
would be possible for someone to steal our data and take our
One of the problems which has long drawn the attention of media
and citizens is the theft of digital identity . It is an alarming
crime with serious consequences which has always existed and whose
numerous cases have always filled the newspapers. The advent of the
web has facilitated such issues, because it creates new
opportunities for fraud made possible to modern criminals, who have
rapidly adapted to new technologies, finding different ways to
steal valuable information and achieve their own illicit purposes.
Identity theft is one of the most serious problems related to this
situation. It is a misappropriation of an individual's personal
data with the aim of committing illegal acts in his name for
As a matter of fact, stealing personal information is not that
difficult for criminals . The open network, the massive use of
emails, the widespread use of electronic transactions, social
networks and chat, in fact encourage and increase the circulation
of personal data. This makes internet surfing increasingly
vulnerable, with serious economic and social damage and at the same
time increasing the demand by all the victims of the crime to have
their privacy protected.
It is a crime that may affect both individuals and
companies. If the victim of this crime is a natural person,
the criminal is likely to open bank accounts, issue fake cheques or
reset the victim's account. If the victim is a company,
criminals are likely to have access to public registers violating
the company's database and acquiring private information. Using
the information gained, they may require supplies and funding
without any payment and discrediting the name of the company.
Until recently, Italian law didn't have any specific
legislation on identity theft. The crime was punishable pursuant to
Article 494 of the Criminal Code relating to
"Impersonation", that is the action made by those who
steal or use someone's identity for personal benefit and/or to
Yet this rule, did not do proper justice to those victims of
digital identity theft. It was, therefore, necessary to fill
this gap in the law. And so it was, with the enactment of
Decree Law 93/2013 converted into Law n. 119 of 15 October 2013 and
the introduction of Article 640-ter, paragraph 3 of the Criminal
Code, which punishes computer fraud with imprisonment from 2 to 6
years and with a fine ranging from EUR 600 to EUR 3,000 "...
if the act is committed with theft or improper use of digital
identity to the detriment of one or more people ".
Giving a closer look at the situation, some points may appear of
The first and most important, is that the victim is not aware of
the identity theft until he/she suffers the consequences.
The second is that, as a condition of the crime itself, the
subtraction must necessarily involve a real identity, of a natural
or legal person. But it is the increasingly widespread use of
nicknames, especially on social networks, that makes it
particularly difficult to attribute the crime to a certain
The third element is the number of possible ways to steal
personal data. There is a wrong belief to dispel, that is only
those who "attend" social networks or surf the net can
run into such problems. Suffice to think of the widespread
habit of some stores that, upon payment of products by cheque,
require an ID document which is often photocopied.
Despite any possible precautions - today there are very few
possibilities to effectively defend oneself from such crime.
The digital identity theft also has a strong psychological
impact on the victim. Therefore, it has consequences from both
an economic and emotional point of view, affecting a person's
reputation and forcing the victim to "defend" from
something that was never committed.
Whether there is a law regarding it or not, the phenomenon is
definitely remarkable for its extent. There is still much to do,
and we will hear more about identity theft . It finds fertile
ground in the process of technological innovation that everyone,
from State to companies, pose as a strategic objective to raise
both quality and efficiency standards of the services provided, but
that inevitably leads to the vulnerabilities which are typical of
Citizens' strategies to protect their own privacy are made
vain by today's technological development. There is an
increased digital freedom of circulation along with increased risks
associated with its use. And it is even more difficult to find a
balance between the undeniable need of the right of access the
network, and the need for security, which is as much about the
individual as the public or private organization.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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