07/14/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/14/2020 17:09
Electronic signatures are broadly accepted throughout the industrialized world as equivalent to a written 'wet' signature.For most use cases, customers, and locations, an electronic signature is sufficient. However, transactions in heavily regulated industries, in foreign countries or with governmental entities may require or prefer digital signatures, which offer a heightened level of identity assurance compared to electronic signatures.
A digital signature is a type of electronic signature that offers additional verification of the identities of the parties involved in a transaction compared to simple electronic signatures.
Digital signatures are based on a technology standard called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). PKI is used to create a unique, tamper-evident 'digital certificate' that associates a signer with a document and guarantees that the electronic document is authentic. Digital certificates indicate that the signers have completed extra steps to confirm their identities. A signer's digital certificate is used to create the signature and then attach it to the signed document.
In the U.S, digital signatures are typically used in regulated industries like life sciences for compliance with the FDA's requirements for electronic signatures, often referred to as 21 CFR Part 11 . Another example is the US Federal Government, where federal employees can be issued a personal identity verification (PIV) card that contains a PKI digital certificate for signing that complies with the US Federal Processing Standards.
Around the world, there are international standards that specify requirements for digital signatures and the methods used to authenticate a signer. For example, in the Americas, it's the Code of Civil Procedure in Brazil and Section 1803 of the Civil Code in Mexico. In Europe , it's European Union's Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services regulation(eIDAS). In Australia, it's the Electronic Transactions Acts.
You can learn more about current e-signature laws, local laws, and electronic signature technology preferences for different countries in the DocuSign E-Signature Legality Guide.
DocuSign's digital certificate-based signatures (digital signatures) support your efforts to comply with these regulations. Around the world, the local regulation defines tiers of signatures and the terms Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES) and Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) are often used. There may be different naming around the world but in general:
Advanced electronic signature (AES) includes a digital certificate that links the signature to a verified ID with some fundamental rules as to how this ID has been verified. These digital certificates are usually issued by a Trust Service Provider (TSP) also known as a Certificate Authority (CA).
Qualified electronic signature (QES) includes a qualified digital certificate that indicates that identity verification has been completed face to face. The qualified certificates can only be issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) authorized by regulatory bodies who assess the QTSP security standards.
DocuSign is a QTSP in Europe, which means DocuSign is authorized to issue Advanced and Qualified signatures across the European Union. Beyond Europe, the DocuSign platform accepts certificates from leading TSPs and CAs across the world throughAPI integrationswith our Trust Service Provider partners, other third-party integrations, and directly from signers.
In the European Union, the Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS) regulation defines the technical standard for electronic signature in three levels: electronic signature and two digital signature levels called advanced electronic signature (AES) and qualified electronic signature (QES). Under eIDAS, both AES and QES include signer identity verification, with QES meeting the strictest requirements.
Let's look at the difference between the three levels of signatures under eIDAS in more detail:
DocuSign eSignaturemeets the eIDAS requirement for electronic signature along with additional benefits such as powerful workflows, a comprehensive audit trail, and integrations across hundreds of business systems and support for 44 signing languages.
DocuSign issues AES PKI digital signatures to satisfy the above requirements and provide flexible options to verify the identity of signers using DocuSign ID Verificationor using your established identification processes. Alternatively, DocuSign connects to other TSPs you already work with.
Take Swedish law firm Cederquist, for example. Under Swedish law, certain transactions or processes require an advanced level of electronic signatureincompliance with Europe's eIDAS regulation. This level of signature can be achieved when combining a digital signature with the online Swedish Bank Verification. Integrating DocuSign eSignatures with online ID verification from the DocuSign Agreement Cloud has given Cederquist an edge in the legal sector.
As a qualified TSP on the EU Trust List, DocuSign offers multiple options for QES with face to face identity verification options. DocuSign accepts all qualified certificates issued by TSPs on the EU Trust List that your signer already possesses. Alternatively, DocuSign integrates with several qualified TSPs of choice.
Teledoctor24 distinguishes itself by being one of the first companies to legally implement e-prescriptions and online sick leave in an industry that has struggled with establishing a legal framework. Learn how Teledoctor 24 leverages DocuSign to achieve legally required QES in Germany when they issue e-prescriptions and online sick notes, where a QES signature is legally required for these use cases .
While eIDAS and other regulations across the world clearly articulate the definition for electronic signatures, AES and QES, they don't prescribe when to use each signature type. That's why DocuSign maintains a DocuSign Legality Guide to highlight common use cases for 60+ countries.
For more information on DocuSign Digital Signature Solutions to stay compliant with local and industry e-signature standards, visit the DocuSign website.