Digital signatures and european laws

Tuesday, 13 January 2004, 12:38 AM EST

People who do business on the Internet require security and trust. In electronic commerce and communication you can't see the person you are speaking with, you can't see the documents that prove one's identity, and you can't even know if the web site you are connected to belongs to the society it says. You must also ask yourself: is this indeed the contract my business partner has sent to me or has someone unauthorized seen and changed it before it reached my desk? What will happen if I have problems with the contract and I must take it to a court of law?

To answer these juridical necessities the European Union adopted a community framework for electronic signatures some time ago (directive 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and the council of December 13, 1999, on a community framework for electronic signatures) that has been implemented in various European countries. The European directive is used for business in which European partners (persons or societies) or public administrations are involved. It also means that if an American organization enters into an electronic contract with a European society it has to respect European requirements to ensure the contract is valid. This paper will address these issues and then provide an overview of current trends within various countries in Europe.

By Mirella Mazzeo at SecurityFocus.

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