E-signatures, or electronic signatures, allow us to digitally sign legally binding contracts without physically printing anything down or using a pen. Because they may be used to sign papers remotely, regardless of the recipient’s location, they are more convenient than a conventional signature, saving time and postal costs while producing immediate results.
What is an electronic signature?
When someone uses an eSignature, they show that they agree with the information in a particular document or piece of data. Like a handwritten signature in the real world captures the signatory’s desire to be bound by the provisions of the paper it is attached to, so does an electronic signature.
Types of electronic signatures
The eIDAS Regulation distinguishes between “simple” electronic signatures, “advanced” electronic signatures, and “qualified” electronic signatures. In this hierarchy, a “qualified” electronic signature is the one that satisfies the most criteria, while a “simple” electronic signature meets the fewest.
Simple Electronic Signatures
According to eIDAS Article 3, “electronic data that is connected to or logically related with other electronic data and utilized by the signatory to sign” constitutes an electronic signature. Accordingly, signing your name underneath an email might be considered an electronic signature.
Advanced Electronic Signatures
Following Article 3 of the eIDAS Agreement, an advanced electronic signature is one that also:
- Can be traced back to its original signer;
- Generated in a manner that gives the signer full creative authority;
- Embedded in the document in such a way that any tampering with the data is immediately apparent.
A public-key infrastructure (PKI), which employs certificates and cryptographic keys, is the most popular method for providing such capabilities.
Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES)
As an upgraded form of electronic signature, a qualified one also:
- Made using a qualified signature generator and relies on a qualified electronic signature certificate.
Electronic signature creation data protection may be achieved via various signature creation devices, including smart cards, SIM cards, and USB sticks. “Remote signature creation devices” may also be employed if the device is not in the physical custody of the signatory but administered by a provider. While the legal certainty of qualified electronic signatures is maintained, the user experience is enhanced by these distant signature solutions.
Certified certification providers for electronic signatures may be found in the national “trusted lists” of EU Member States. These providers can be either public or private. The browser is called the Trusted List Browser, where you may view such lists. You may get the private key for your certificate on a certified signature creation device from many different certificate authorities.
In the European Union (EU), only qualified electronic signatures are specifically recognized as having the equal legal effect as handwritten signatures. In contrast, alternative degrees of electronic signatures may be suitable in different settings.
When should you sign anything digitally?
The usage of electronic signatures is not limited to any particular scenarios. Qualified electronic signatures have the same legal implications as handwritten signatures and may be used in the same contexts, including internationally, where handwritten signatures are required, such as:
- Contracts (sales, employment, lease, and insurance.)
- Transactions (e-commerce and online banking.)
- Administrative processes (tax statements and petitions for birth certificates)
Benefits of electronic signatures
In comparison to their ink-based predecessors, electronic signatures are much more convenient. They lessen our negative impact on the planet and may be used wherever you are. In many cases, the signature’s authenticity is even verified by technological means.
Quick, easy, and risk-free
Approvals and agreements may be completed much quicker with electronic signatures. No more driving around or waiting for the mail to drop off papers; electronic signatures accomplish the job just as well. The instant you add your electronic signature to a document is the time you may advance to the next stage.
Signing legal papers has been significantly simplified by electronic signatures. Thanks to electronic signature systems, you may sign documents or have them signed from anywhere worldwide on any device you like. The days of printing, signing, scanning, and resubmitting papers are over, and a fax machine isn’t necessary to transmit and receive electronic signatures.
Confidential and enforceable by law
Electronic signatures have the same binding legal effect as handwritten ones. The E-Sign Act, enacted in the United States in 2000, establishes the parameters for electronic signatures and gives them the same force in law as a traditional handwritten signature. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which legalizes electronic signatures, has been accepted by almost every state. Specific legal papers, including wills, cannot be digitally signed.
Safe for the environment
It’s not only inconvenient but also wasteful to have to print, scan and fax to create an electronic signature. Your carbon footprint will increase with every new appliance you buy. Workflows that reduce the number of devices used are more environmentally friendly. The same may be said of the trees that will need to be felled to provide the paper for your hardcopy papers.
The use of digital signatures
Electronic signatures may be created in a variety of ways. This is technique-dependent; therefore, choose your electronic signature method wisely. However, the way they function is essentially the same. To get someone else to sign off on anything, you may email them your paper, indicate where they need to sign, and get on with your business. As the signatory, you must open the document, sign in the appropriate places, and hit “submit.”