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[FYI] Towards legal recognition of electronic signatures

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/ European Communities, 1999.  

Record Control Number: 13845  

Date: 1999-10-29  

Category: Legislation  

General Information:  

The EU Directive on electronic signatures passed its second reading 
in the European Parliament on 27 October subject to several minor 
amendments proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee. Both the Council 
and the Commission have voiced support for these amendments and it is 
therefore expected that European citizens will shortly enjoy legal 
recognition for electronic signatures.  

As the business potential of e-commerce grows, it became increasingly 
apparent that some form of procedures to improve the security 
standards and the legal recognition of electronic signatures and 
certification services was needed. In fact such a framework is 
considered essential for consumer security and confidence.  

The planned Directive, which began life as a Commission proposal in 
October 1998, is technologically neutral and thus open to future 
developments in authentication procedures. The essence of the 
proposal is that certain electronic signatures are legally recognised 
in the framework of statutory forms and the law of evidence.  

The amendments adopted by the Parliament seek to clarify certain 
areas. The first is intended to make clear that the Directive shall 
not apply to closed systems which are based on voluntary contractual 
agreements under private law between a limited number of participants 
where there is no need for Community legislation.  

Regarding the liability of providers of certification services, the 
amendments would ensure that certificates contain all the necessary 
requirements for a qualified certificate, and that it must be made 
clear where the limitations and the liability of certificate 
providers ends.  

Once the Directive becomes law, electronic signatures accompanied by 
a valid certificate will have equivalent validity to handwritten 
signatures. This will enable secure electronic commerce within the 
European Union, which it is hoped will stimulate investment 
encouraging growth, employment and competitiveness.  

Data Source Provider: PARLIAMENT  

Document Reference: News report.  

Subject Index Codes: Information Processing, Information Systems  

Related News: 13545