What is a PEC and why should it be preserved digitally

PEC is the Italian abbreviation, for Certified Electronic Mail (Posta Elettronica Certificata). Through this technology it is possible to send and receive emails with legal value. Today it is the only valid tool that can be used as a digital address at which to receive communications from the Public Administration.

The Italian PEC has acquired a significant value and today constitutes an exclusive service in Europe. In fact, European electronic certified delivery services are the natural evolution of Certified Mail and will soon be active throughout Europe as part of trust services established in the European regulation 910/2014 (eIDAS).

PEC is comparable to a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt due to “Receipt of delivery” which provides the sender with certainty of dispatch and delivery.

With PEC, the delivery receipt is an e-mail message issued by the PEC Manager as a confirmation of dispatch of the communication. It contains the original message, the data relating to the delivery and is digitally signed by the PEC manager which hence guarantees the exact dispatch time, the authenticity of the content and consequently its invariability.

The digital signature attached, however, has an expiry date, as it is linked to a signature certificate which usually has a limited duration in time.

To give it lasting probative legal value it is therefore not sufficient to print the PEC and the delivery and acceptance receipts of the message in paper format or to save it in an archive, but it is necessary to store it digitally in a preservation system in accordance with the law so that the characteristics of authenticity, integrity, reliability, legibility and invariability can be guaranteed.

Keeping a PEC is not only useful for evidential purposes but it is also required by law:

  • PECs constitute a form of corporate correspondence with legal relevance and therefore pursuant to art. 2220 of the Civil Code must be kept for 10 years and since they may contain relevant content also for commercial purposes, they must also be kept pursuant to art. 22 of the Presidential Decree 600/73
  • PECs are considered electronic documents, therefore art. 43 of the CAD (Digital Administration Code) provides that the preservation of the same must be performed digitally in compliance with the technical rules provided for the preservation

It is also important to underline that PEC managers are obligated to preserve via optical media, for 30 months (minimum period), but only message logs (i.e. the information relating to the exchange) and not the messages themselves intended as the content of the communications. The latter activity is the responsibility of the owner of the mailbox.

The eWitness solution for the management, archiving and digital preservation of PEC mailboxes

eWitness provides a platform that facilitates mailbox management, certifies the path of messages within a company, keeps messages, notifications, signals unread PECs and allows configuration of access at different degrees for the same mailbox.

The platform is directly integrated into the eWitness Preservation System thus offering a key service.

The platform:

  • keeps the PEC mailbox efficient and operational, minimising the risk of deleting important documents
  • simplifies reading and writing messages
  • guarantees and transfers information of management and read messages
  • protects the computer from threatening viruses
  • gives legal value over time to certified e-mail messages (possibly also e-mails) as it sends the messages and related attachments in digital storage through the same

It is possible to choose how often to send certified e-mails into storage with customisable frequency from one minute upwards and also select which messages to “keep”.

Within the same platform it is also possible to manage simple mailboxes (PEO – Ordinary Electronic Mail).