For over a decade, Riccardo Genghini has been actively engaged in the protection of the consumer and privacy in telecommunications and IT and in the protection of the fundamental rights of the individual in a free, pluralistic and digital society.
The compatibility between privacy and IT security and the diffusion of open technologies and open standards, transparency and verifiability in on-line transactions are topics in which he has been interested since he was a law student, when he realized the profound impact that information technology would have had on society and on customary and codified law.
For over a decade, Riccardo Genghini has been actively engaged in the protection of the consumer and privacy in telecommunications and IT and in the protection of the fundamental rights of the individual in a free, pluralistic and digital society. The compatibility between privacy and IT security and the diffusion of open technologies and open standards, transparency and verifiability in on-line transactions are topics in which he has been interested since he was a law student, when he realized the profound impact that information technology would have had on society and on customary and codified law.
It was the late 1970s and the jurists of the time feared that information technology could alter decisions of judges. Therefore, involving the Italian Magistrates of the Courts of Cassation Mr Borruso and Mr Berni Canani, in 1979 he founded the student association Giurinform which, for over 10 years, supported the magistrates of the Court of Cassation and the Court of Appeal of Naples in the use of the first judicial IT tools, seeking solutions for the objective and impartial formation of the judgments of the judicial bodies. He moved to New York in 1990 and he was the first lawyer with the firm of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts to use a laptop computer for clients in connection with the firm’s network, to prepare contracts for the disposal of aircraft.
Back in Italy, as a notary in the Milan district, he founded Studio Genghini e Associati and made his IT skills available to the sector, publishing a regular IT column in the magazine Federnotizie (Italian notary on-line publication) between 1996-1998. With the start of the era of telematics, which imposes on notaries more in-depth skills, in 2005 he founded the cultural notary association Euronot@ries for the free training of notaries and the dissemination of the most current topics, from the telematic act to blockchains.
The main authors to whom Riccardo Genghini has always been inspired in his research and education are Thomas Sebeok, Walter J. Ong, Natalino Irti, Francesco Galgano, John Searle, Maurizio Ferraris and John Rawls, through whom he profoundly deepens the new meanings that justice, identity, person, rights and obligations are gradually going to take on in a digital context. Hence, the search in the most modern digital technologies of technical and cryptographic properties and functional and semiotic properties that can be used to protect personal rights in on-line operations.
These are themes widely dealt with in “Digital New Deal: the quest for a natural law in a digital society”, his latest editorial work, in which he summarizes fifteen years of his work and his research, outlining objectives and scenarios for a free and pluralist digital society. Riccardo Genghini speaks Italian, German and English but he is also fluent in French and Spanish.
A notary in Milan since 1990, he founded Studio Genghini e Associati, one of the most technologically advanced law firms in Italy and Europe in the field of contracts and digital acts. In 2008, Studio Genghini e Associati was the first in Europe to execute a completely digital notary contract and in 2018 it was the first to negotiate a public deed via teleconference. Studio Genghini e Associati remains a European reference point for the number of digital notary contracts executed, with over 100,000 authenticated deeds to date. Clients include Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank PLC, Che Banca!, Banco BPM, Banca Mediolanum and ING Direct NV. Innovation and digital research are a staple of Riccardo Genghini’s activity, especially as regards the standardization processes of digital signatures, documents, emails and archives with legal value, aimed at the notary sector. It is an area in which he currently holds important roles at both national and international levels.
Since 2004 he has been Chairman of the European Standardization Committee E-Signature and Infrastructures (ESI) within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and since 2012 he has been Chairman of the European Coordination Group on Electronic Signatures (El-Sig CC), which is engaged in the implementation of the research project “Electronic Identity Authentication and Signature” (eIAS).
This project was funded by the European Community with the aim of defining rules that harmonize European Union standards in the field of electronic signatures. As a member of the same research project, from 2011 to 2015 Riccardo Genghini collaborated with the European Commission on the drafting of the 2014/910/ EU Regulation (eIDAS Regulation) and in 2012 he was among the facilitators of a joint initiative of ETSI, of the European Commission and of the players in the cloud computing market, aimed at a possible harmonization to transform cloud computing into public – private infrastructure.
From 2001 to 2004 he was Chairman of the CEN/ISSS E-Sign Workshop (European Committee for Standardization – Information Society Standardization System). Under his chairmanship, protection standards for electronic signature cards and trust services were approved in accordance with Directive 1999/93 / EC (CWA 14167-1 & 2, CWA 14169), which are used globally today. From 2001 to 2006 he was Chairman of the STT Commission (Security of Telematic Transactions), which implemented in Italy the first set of European standards on digital signatures.
Riccardo Genghini is also the founder of two successful start-ups, now in the hands of institutional investors: eWitness SA in Luxembourg (2005) and Euronotai Srl in Italy (2007). The company eWitness offers a long-term data retention system that works on the same technical principles as blockchains, while Euronotai Srl provides IT and telematic notary services.
In the academic and educational fields, for over a decade Riccardo Genghini has taught commercial law at various notary schools in Italy and from 2007 to 2017 he was Adjunct Professor of Comparative Commercial Law at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. For his university lectures he developed Wook!, a prototype of an interactive book that makes learning an active and engaging experience, thanks to the continuous exchange of ideas between the author and the readers.
He is also the author of numerous publications, including, most recently, “Digital New Deal: the quest for a natural law in a digital society”, Wolters & Kluwer, 2020 and “Il nuovo diritto societario – Gli statuti delle nuove società di capitali” in “Trattato di diritto commerciale e dell’economia” twenty-ninth volume by F. Galgano, published by CEDAM, Padua in 2004.