Is the Digitized Signature valid?

The Digitized Signature or biometric signature is something that is more present in our day to day (messaging, merchandise receipts, accident parts …). The utilities are many and makes it easy for both users and entities to sign any type of document, while helping the environment. However, would it be considered valid in case of a trial? In this article we explain it to you.

The digitized signature  or biometric signature is nothing more than the manuscript captured through graphic tablets. More and more companies opt for this option when having to make the customer sign delivery notes, receipts or even parts, for the advantages they present.

In addition, the pace of life we have and the need to work from any device make this type of mobility solutions  make our day to day easier.

It is very important to ‘point out that the regularization legal framework for of electronic signatures is different in each country. However, in the case of the European Union Member, last July 2016 came into force the 910/2014 rule, which regulates electronic identification in all member states.

Thus, although each state has its own law, there are guidelines that have to be fulfilled by all. For example, the validity of certificates issued in one Member State in all others to contribute to the development of the Digital Single Market

Based on Spanish legislation, Law 59/2003, defines the electronic signature as:

“The set of data in electronic form, consigned together with others or associated with them, that can be used as a means of identifying the signatory.”

Specifically, in this law, and based on what is also established in EU 910/2014, legal value is granted to two types of electronic signature:

  1. Qualified Electronic Signature: It is the electronic signature by digital certificate and the law grants the same value as the handwritten signature.
  2. Advanced Electronic Signature: In order for a signature to be considered as an advanced electronic signature, it must have been created by means that the signatory possesses in exclusivity, identify it, detect subsequent changes that were made in the signature and be linked to the person signing the signature in an exclusive way.

Law 59/2003 attributes the same value as the handwritten signature to the qualified electronic signature – digital certificate -, so it seems difficult that the digitized or biometric signature – would fall into the category of advanced signatures – can have the same value as this one.

That does not mean that, in case of conflict, it would not have legal validity. It simply means that you have to prove that you meet the requirements of advanced electronic signature and provide sufficient evidence.

Is the digitized signature or biometric signature legally valid?

In order for a digitized signature or biometric signature to be considered an advanced electronic signature, it must comply with the identification of the person who has signed the document in question and who is the subject of a dispute. Whether or not a digitized signature meets those requirements will depend on the solution with which it was generated. Specifically, digitized signatures or biometric signatures generated through Viafirma Platform or another similar platform may have legal validity to fulfill the following characteristics:

Biometric data capture

At the moment of the signature, data such as: stroke velocity, pressure points, etc. are collected. All that data, along with the geolocation or information, of both the software and the hardware with which the signature is being produced, are encrypted.

Such data are completely confidential, since, if an external person had access to such information, it could falsify the signature. To do this, a public key of a certification authority (the trusted third party) is used, which has the private key and will only decrypt the data in case a judge asks for it. This ensures that the signature identifies the signer, is uniquely linked with it and has been created by means that it maintains in exclusivity.

Sealed of time

Through the sealed of time, an electronic signature is made with all the information previously quoted from the Certification Authority. In this way, you can know exactly when the document was generated.

In the same way, through the sealed of stamp, it is allowed to know any modifications that have been made in the document at a time after the moment of signature. Therefore, it brings authenticity. One of the main requirements of advanced electronic signature.

All the information in a single PDF

Being everything in a PDF, this is the only file that would be required in a legal process to contain all the evidence. Specifically, in the same document in which the signature is stamped, all the encrypted and signed results are entered. In the specific case of Viafirma Platform, in addition, there is a third application that is in charge of validating all the generated results and that, through the trusted third party, would allow the recovery of the biometric data of the firm and its delivery to an expert as evidence, to the rejection of the digitized or handwritten signature itself.

In conclusion, in the legal framework that regulates electronic signatures in Europe – eIDAS– and at local level in Spain, the same validity is recognized to the qualified electronic signature – through digital certificate – than to the handwritten signature.

In the case of the advanced electronic signature, the legislation recognizes its validity whenever there is sufficient evidence to prove the identity of the signer.

Thus, the digitized or biometric signature, as we saw above, can be considered as a simple electronic signature or it can enter the category of advanced electronic signature, depending on if it is accompanied by sufficient evidence to guarantee the identity of the signer, in which case it would have Legal validity.

In this case, the solution chosen to carry out the digitized or biometric signature is the key factor. Thus, with applications such as Viafirma Documents, through the capture and encryption of biometric data, the sealed of time and the validation of all those encrypted results and later included in the pdf where the signature has been stamped, provide sufficient evidence for the Digital signature that is generated is considered an advanced electronic signature.