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Reloj Official date and time:
23/06/2021 07:02:35

What is the electronic signature?

Safety of the electronic signature

On the foundations of the principles of integrity, authenticity, non-rejection and confidentiality, an important infrastructure has been built achieving the provision of all of these added values to electronic communications. 


Technically, safety is provided by the cryptography of the assymetric key applied to the electronic signature of document.


On the other hand, safety is also necessary from the legal point of view. In the case of Spain, it is guranteed with Law 59/2003, of 19 December, on electronic signatures. Since September 1999 the use of electronic signatures in electronic documents is possible in Spain, regulated at that time by Royal Decree-Law 14/1999, of 17 September, on electronic signatures, currently abolished.


Law 59/2003, of 19 December, on electronic signatures defines electronic signatures differentiating three types:


- The general electronic signature, which would be the equivalent of a digitalised handwritten signature. "The electronic signature is the set of data in electronic form, consigned along with others or related to them, that may be used as the signatory’s means of identification".


- The advanced electronic signature. "(...) it is the electronic signature that allows us to identify the signatory and detect any subsequent change of the signed data, which is related to the signatory and to the date it refers to in a unique manner, and which has been created by means which the signatory can keep under its exclusive control".


- The recognised electronic signature. "An advanced electronic signature based on a recognised certificate and generated by means of a secure signature creating device is considered a recognised electronic signature. A recognised electronic signature will have, with respect to the data consigned electronically, the same value as a handwritten signature in relation to those consigned on paper".


The following is the most important legislation in force on electronic signatures at European level:

At European level:

  • Directive 1999/93/CE of the European Parliament and Council, of 13 December 1999, by means of which a community framework is established for electronic signatures.
  • Directive 2000/31/CE of the European Parliament and Council, of 8 June 2000, with regards to certain legal aspects of information society’s services, in particular electronic commerce in the interior market (Directive on electronic commerce).

At state level:

  • Law 34/2002, of 11 July, on information society and electronic commerce services.
  • Law 59/2003 of 19 December, on electronic signatures.
  • Law 56/2007, of 28 December, on Measures to Promote the Information Society.