Are eSignatures legal?

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26 Mayo 2022 · 11:00h (hora Madrid GMT+2)

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Are eSignatures legal for any type of contract?. Companies often ask themselves how to switch from traditional-based to digital efficient processes to automate processes that involve e-signatures with customers, suppliers and employees.

Electronic signatures play a vital role in any digital transformation process but are eSignatures legal at anytimes? This article covers its legal validity, types and the different solutions that Viafirma can offer to your company.

Which laws regulate electronic signatures?

eSignatures are currently fully supported by all the laws in force in most countries of the world, some being stricter and others more flexible.

We will dive into eIDAS Regulation, the most demanding European regulation in terms of electronic identification and trust services which regulates electronic signatures. In addition, this regulation is also a legal template for most Latin American countries.

Legal framework for electronic signatures

Viafirma software meets EU, US, Canada and Latin America legal standards.

First of all, let’s point out that the legislation sets out the definition and type of electronic signature, although it does not provide any specific examples of when one or the other should be used.

Let’s see the definition of electronic signature according to the eIDAS regulation:

“Electronic data attached to other electronic data or logically associated with them that the signer uses to sign.”

Gavel and books on a table

How many different types are there available?

Article 3 sets out 3 definitions:

  • Electronic signature: Data in electronic format attached to other electronic data or logically associated with them, which the signer uses to sign.
  • Advanced electronic signature: The electronic signature that meets the requirements of article 26, that is:
    • Be linked to the signer only
    • Allow the signer’s identification
    • Created using electronic signature creation data that the signer can use, with a high level of trust, under his exclusive control.
    • Be linked to the data signed by it in such a way that any subsequent modification thereof is detectable.
  • Qualified electronic signature: Created using a qualified electronic signature creation device and that is based on a qualified electronic signature certificate.

Article 25 sets out the following definitions:

  • A QAE shall have a legal effect equivalent to a handwritten signature.
  • It is based on a qualified certificate issued in one member state shall be recognized in all other countries.

To achieve this, to reach a qualified level you must have a certificate that has been issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider recognized by EU member states and created on a ”qualified” device.

In practice, this means that it is complicated and impractical use qualified electronic signatures. Sometimes this type of signature is absolutely necessary, but in most cases we can use advanced electronic signature which are more practical and easier to use.

Examples of advanced electronic signature

The following are some of the types of AES offered by Viafirma:

OTP SMS

A temporary code sent to the cell phone is very frequent in many digital industries. It is called OTP code (One Time Password) or validation code.

The system stores the random shortcode to be sent to the user’s mobile device, connecting the document content and the OTP to validate the signed document. It is statistically impossible for two different documents to provide the same number with the same hash calculation positions.

Sign a document online safely and legally binding

eSign using OTP SMS

Digital certificates

Digital certificates are an identification and signature mechanism that is uniquely linked to the signer. Both access to the signature request and to the certificate are under the exclusive control of the signatory. Once the documents are validated, any subsequent changes that may occur will be easily detected.

The document will be re-signed with a certificate and time stamp allowing to check any subsequent modification of the document.

Biometric signature

Collects biometric data like speed, inclination and pressure. This requires the use of devices suitable for such as tablets with precision stylus or signature pads to perform the signature

The document will then be signed with a certificate and timestamp to ensure that it cannot been altered afterwards.

Viafirma software: Legal eSignatures for your business

Viafirma software ensures high levels of security for your processes and complies with all regulations in force. Besides, it helps you develop a winning digital transformation strategy, moving from paper-based processes to automated digital workflows.

More companies are using them worldwide as its the best way to approve documents efficiently in today’s world.

Signing online has never been easier

Automate processes efficiently