Definition of the term ‘digital signature’ and the technology behind it and the legal and practical relevance.
In the course of the discussion about digital signatures, the question arises more and more often as to whether individual companies or certain sectors (banks, insurance companies, …) or authorities are obliged to accept a digital signature, as is often possible with e-mail programs.
In order to answer this question, the technology itself must be briefly discussed. Actually, the term ‘digital signature’ is misleading. It suggests a close relationship to the natural, personal signature, but this is not the case. The use of the digital signature is a technically mediated process that is triggered by a person. This technical process is used to identify the person and to authorize certain activities and is therefore most comparable to showing an ID card. Actually, the ‘digital signature’ should be called ‘digital identity card’.
Just as we all (can) have different IDs, from the official passport to the membership card at the bowling club, we will also have different digital signatures in the future. Just as with ID cards, no one can be obliged to accept a specific one, so it is with digital signatures. Each company is free to decide what type of ID it accepts, typically government issued photo IDs are accepted, bowling club membership cards are not.
No company can be obliged to accept certain digital signatures as proof of identity. It’s a little different in the government sector. Work is being done here on legal regulations for the use of digital signatures as proof of identity and authentication. It is still completely unclear whether these will ever come into effect, which people and authorities will use the system and which systems and alternatives will exist.
See also: RTR notification A 22/2006-4 regarding GLOBALTRUST(only german)
You might be interested in that
While digitization reached almost every aspect of daily work, the necessity for handwritten signatures in B2B environments preserves printing paper its crucial role – and incurs costs. However, by implementing e-signatures, businesses can reduce expenses, streamline processes, and contribute to a more sustainable...
QES & Competition Law – European Commission to require electronic signatures from 1st September, 2023
To further simplify merger control procedures and in line with its overall digital strategy, the European Commission has published a number of revised legal texts, including one that will make electronic transmission of electronically signed documents the default method from 1 September 2023. Read on to find out...
User guide for signing and encrypting emails with the GLOBALTRUST CLIENT certificate on your Apple iPhoneAs of May 10, 2023 1 Basic 1.1 Goals of this document A step-by-step guide on how to add the certificate to your iPhone to then sign and/or encrypt emails. This guide was created for an Apple iPhone (iOS version:...