Is the electronic signature legal?

The legal electronic signature is crucial for any digital transformation process. To this end, one of the first questions that companies ask themselves is how to change from the traditional system to a digital one to automate processes that require the electronic signature of documents with customers, suppliers and employees.

In this article we will talk about the legal electronic signature, its validity, the different types and the different solutions offered by Viafirma for your company.

What laws regulate electronic signatures?

Currently, electronic signatures are fully supported by the legislation in force in practically all countries of the world, being stricter in some countries and more permissive in others.

We will analyze the eIDAS Regulation, the most demanding European regulation in terms of electronic identification and trust services that regulates electronic signatures. It also serves as a legal model for most Latin American countries.

First of all, it is important to note that the legislation defines what is meant by an electronic signature by type, but does not provide specific examples of when one or the other should be used.

Having clarified this point, let’s look at its definition according to the eIDAS regulation:

“Data in electronic form attached to or logically associated with other electronic data used by the signatory to sign.”

firma-electrónica-legalWhat types of legal electronic signature are there?

Article 3 contains 3 definitions:

  • Electronic signature: Data in electronic format attached to or logically associated with other electronic data used by the signatory to sign.
  • Advanced electronic signature: That which complies with the requirements contemplated in article 26, that is:
    • Be uniquely linked to the signatory
  • Qualified electronic signature: It is created by means of a qualified electronic signature creation device based on a qualified certificate.

Article 25 contains the following points on the legal electronic signature:

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

To achieve this, it is essential to have a certificate that has been issued by a qualified service provider publicly recognized by the EU states and created on a ”qualified” device.

In practice, carrying out a qualified electronic signature is impractical. There are scenarios where it is absolutely necessary, but in most cases an advanced electronic signature with some electronic evidence is more than enough to give legal validity to the process.

Advanced signature examples

The following are some of the types of advanced legal electronic signatures offered by Viafirma:

Signature with certificate

The digital certificate is an identification and signature mechanism, uniquely linked to the signatory. Both access to the signature request and the certificate are under the exclusive control of the person. Once signed, any modification that may occur will be easily detected.

OTP Signature

The use of a temporary use code sent to the mobile phone is very common in many digital sectors. It is known as OTPcode (One Time Password) or validation code.

The system stores the random shortcode to be sent to the user’s mobile device, linking the content of the document and the calculated OTP to perform a validation of the signed document. It is statistically impossible for two different documents to give the same number with the same hash calculation positions.

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

Biometric signature

This collects biometric data such as the speed, inclination and pressure of the user when tracing his or her signature. For this it is essential to have suitable devices for this purpose, whether tablets with precision stylus and pads.

Thanks to biometrics, it will be the person who signs the document on a device prepared for this purpose. The document is then signed with a certificate and time-stamped to ensure that it has not been altered at a later date.

After this article, you will no longer have any doubts about whether it is a legal electronic signature!


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