« Since my appointment as CEO in September 2009, I have repositioned the company around three core security and trust activities », declared Didier Trutt, CEO of the Imprimerie Nationale Group.
In his interview with AISG, Dider Trutt goes over these three core activities: authentication of people and goods, graphic services for the management of administrative and fiscal documents, and securitization of the dematerialization process. Thomson's former Deputy Chief Executive Officer elaborates on the relations between the Imprimerie Nationale and groups like Gemalto, Sagem or Oberthur. According to Didier Trutt, « they are partners rather than competitors», if you consider that the Imprimerie is an « integrator » of cutting edge technologies, such as those used for the biometric passport. When asked about the possible development of an electronic identity card, the CEO declares that the company is technically ready for it. On the whole, he believes that the company is ready to « expand its range of services », and in particular to secure the issue chain for identity documents.
The Imprimerie Nationale, became a private company with state capital 1993, and has since greatly evolved. The first smart cards were made in 2000. In 2002, the Imprimerie was entrusted by the state (public service delegation agreement) to produce and issue tachograph cards (a card for lorry drivers). And in 2005 the group reorganized it activities, focusing on secure documents, mainly for governments. In 2006, the Council of State stopped the Home Office from entrusting Oberthur with the partial production of the biometric passport and confirmed the monopoly granted to the Imprimerie Nationale by law 31st December 1993 (1). All fiduciary workshops were relocated to Douai. The site was modernized and secured.
AISG : What are the Imprimerie Nationale's activities and how have they evolved?
Didier Trutt : Today, the Imprimerie Nationale represents 15 million secure documents per year, 650 000 smart cards for the tachograph card which is compulsory for coaches and lorries, 20 000 passports per day at peak times, 20 000 car registration cards per hour, but also countless agent cards, cheques, driving licences, or digitized flows for dematerialized invoices and pay slips. The Imprimerie Nationale Group is a technology integrator, a service operator and a secure solution provider. Since my appointment as CEO in September 2009, I have repositioned the company around three core security and trust activities. We are experts in the authentication of people and goods and have been commissioned by the State to produce official identity documents (monopoly) (1). Falling back on five centuries of experience as a printing office, we have developed a graphic platform for the turnkey management of administrative and fiscal documents. To help our institutional and private partners, public authorities and privates businesses, with dematerialization we offer secure hosting, traceability and proof management solutions.
AISG : Who are your clients?
Didier Trutt : State departments (Ecology, Health and Sports, Defence, Budget, Home Office…), governmental and paragovernmental organizations (ANTS, La Poste, Onisep, SNCF), banks (Société générale, Crédit agricole…) and private businesses (groupe Chèque déjeuner, France Telecom, Schneider Electric…). The Imprimerie Nationale is often thought of as a somewhat old-fashioned printing office overflowing with punches and books! Punches and books are a noble part of our activities at the Atelier du Livre d'Art et de l'Estampe, but it is not the only one. Far from it! Our production plant near Douai is the jewel of French cutting edge technology know-how. For example, we have recently developed electronic cards for municipal police officers, which secure access to infrastructure and to information systems (digital signature, access recording). These cards should be issued in the next few weeks. They can be adapted to other sensitive professions.
AISG : You refer to the Imprimerie Nationale as a technology integrator. Can you explain what that entails?
Didier Trutt : Take the biometric passport for example: we superimpose multiple security layers. We incorporate a microchip and an antenna, holograms, cryptographic technologies, biometry…We combine the best and most up to date technologies, and they happen to be French. We make sure to always be at the leading edge of technology. Regardless of what new technologies arrive, we shall be capable of incorporating them in our products.
AISG : In 2006, the Council of State stopped the Home Office from entrusting Oberthur with the partial production of the biometric passport thus confirming your monopoly (1). Consequently, have your suppliers become your competitors?
Didier Trutt : They are our partners, not our competitors. Since the confirmation in 2006 of the Imprimerie Nationale's monopoly for the design and production of governmental documents (electronic passport, and in the near future the electronic ID card), we have confirmed our ability to accomplish our governmental mission by identifying and incorporating all cutting edge technologies. The French passport, for example, incorporates three different electronic components supplied to us by the three French leading players in the field. Gemalto, Oberthur or Sagem are not our competitors. They have become key suppliers and can build on their experience with the Imprimerie Nationale, in France, for their activities abroad. We are also working together on EU standardisation, and, increasingly on export. The Imprimerie Nationale is an « agnostic » integrator, but also a service operator and is therefore complementary to these big electronic manufacturers, each with their own competing technologies.
AISG : What stage is the electronic ID card at and what part will you play (AISG n°807 et n°649)?
Didier Trutt : Technically and industrially, we are ready. We have tested prototypes and the feasibility of our various options. We are now ready to integrate all the different levels of security, which will make forgery impossible. It is no longer up to us. We work for the State and for citizens. France has been considering the electronic ID card since 2005. If we don't make up our minds soon, France may fall behind in the sector. We cannot promote French technologies abroad without our own national project.
The medium represents one difficulty: a polycarbonate card instead of a paper card. ANTS, the Imprimerie Nationale and several other industrials have worked together to devise a polycarbonate card with the same fiduciary quality as basic identity paper. The ID card also needed to be « intelligent »: to enable services such as online authentication, and the dematerialization of certain administrative procedures. The selected design includes two microchips on one highly secure medium that we guarantee all these functionality.
AISG : The security of your site and processes is clearly a priority for the Imprimerie Nationale. Yet fraud persists (AISG n°181). How can we fight against it?
Didier Trutt : Our industrial process is secure. Potential flaws usually occur before our intervention. However, we increasingly work with the ANTS (for passports) in order to reinforce the securitization of the document request and personalization chain. The Imprimerie Nationale manages the entire process of several other documents instead of public authorities: from request to delivery. Such is the case of the tachograph car and, more recently, of the Driver Qualification Card. We are ready to expand our services. We could, for example, store citizen documents in a digital safe. Each citizen could then access his document if it is lost or stolen.
AISG : What are your relations with ANTS?
Didier Trutt : In France, the issuing process of fiduciary documents is secured by both the Imprimerie and ANTS. ANTS focuses on the standardisation and the definition of interoperable solutions. In the future, we intend to become partners.
AISG : What will be the Imprimerie Nationale's main issues in years to come?
Didier Trutt : The evolution of the digital world and the increasing security constraints associated with it compel us to continuously take our skills to the next level. We pay particular attention to sustainable archiving of personal or sensitive data, the development of digital safes, the guarantee of the probative value of digitized documents.