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Published by on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 11:09:00 AM

Digital Signatures Verify Authenticity of Electronic Documents

Digital SignaturesBy C R Miller: Electronic documents, including commercial and contractual documents, are becoming the norm in business. Surprisingly, the authenticity of electronic documents is assumed. The truth is that electronic documents can be changed without detection.

To help prevent fraud, digital signatures, conforming to the X.509 standard, are accepted in the EU as to establish legal validity. The standard makes it immediately evident if the documents have be changed.

Different countries have different requirements about where digitally signed documents are required. For example, the legal system in the UK is based on common law, so past cases play an important part in determining requirements. Countries in central Europe have laws based more on defining specific technical regulations. And the pan-European regulations require yet another set of requirements to determine what types of digital signatures are used to legally establish legal authenticity.

The European parliament and council passed Directive [999/94/EC that establishes levels of digital signature requirements. The Directive identifies three forms of electronic signature with increasingly stringent requirements: electronic signature, advanced electronic signature and qualified electronic signature.

Basic electronic signature where there is a need for authentication but there are no legal requirements related to assurance.

Advanced digital signatures that add additional requirements for verification but, again do not have any requirements for assurance.

Qualified digital signatures require signing keys and certification that assures the validity of the signature.

Across the Europe, different countries had adopted different approaches. In the UK, any form of digital signature is adequate in most situations. Countries such as Germany and Italy, require qualified signatures for most communications. And these countries go a step further and add more technical specifications required for authenticate a digital signature.

Chris Miller has been in the merchant account industry for over 15 years. Currently resides in London Offshore and High Risk Merchant Accounts.

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Published by IzajAhmed Shaikh.
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I am, Mr. IzajAhmed Shaikh, a Computer Professional and a Pro. Blogger, who belongs to Shahabad, Karnataka India. My basic Qualifications are B.Sc., and M.C.M. done from University of Pune., formerly known as, Poona University,. I like to write articles based on my personal experiences.