Before discussing the main advantages of the electronic signature, we want to clarify how many types of signatures exist and their features.
Let’s start by saying that the electronic signature is a method of computer identification that uses a set of data in electronic form.
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Electronic signature: 3 essential requirements
In addition to the definition above, a more specific one is that of the Italian Digital Administration Code. According to it, the digital signature must uniquely refer to a single subject and to the document or set of documents to which it is affixed or associated. The affixing of digital signature integrates and replaces “the affixing of seals, punches, stamps, marks and trademarks of any kind for any purpose required by current legislation“. To do so, it must meet 3 basic requirements:
It must ensure the identity of the person, the professional or the company signing the document.
It must ensure that no changes occurred to the digitally signed documents after the signature.
It must ensure that the signatory cannot repudiate the document after signing it.
However, people often misuse ‘electronic signature’ as a synonym for ‘digital signature’. But, there are some substantial differences between the two. In fact, the first refers to a general legal principle. On the contrary, the second is a type of qualified signature available only in Italy and regulated by the CAD, that nothing has to do with the simple electronic signature.
To better understand the differences between digital signature and electronic signature, we can refer to EU Regulation No. 910/2014 on digital identity. Known as eIDAS, it establishes the non-discrimination of electronic documents compared to paper documents.
Simple and qualified electronic signature
The eIDAS Regulation (electronic IDentification Authentication and Signature) mentions two types of signature:
- Simple electronic signature (SES):
It is a set of data in electronic form, attached or connected by logical association with other electronic data, which the signatory uses to sign. It is the most common type of signature since it does not require the use of tools that guarantee the authenticity and integrity of the signed document.
- Qualified electronic signature (QES):
It is a type of Advanced Electronic Signature (AdES). It refers only to the signatory and allows to identify them. Furthermore, its creation depends on data that the signatory can use under their sole control, with a high level of security. The QES is linked to those data and therefore allows the identification of any subsequent changes. Finally, it is created with a qualified device and a qualified electronic certificate, and its legal value is equivalent to that of a handwritten signature.
The advantages of the electronic signature
Why is it important to have an electronic signature? There are 5 main reasons to undertake a complete digitalization process, on a private, professional and corporate level.
having an electronic signature involves substantial economic savings thanks to the reduction in the cost of printing paper documents. This also represents an ethical and ecological choice with a positive impact on the environment.
It simplifies document management and streamlines the internal process of companies. In fact, the transmission of documents is faster and more efficient.
- Legal validity:
it ensures the legal validity of electronic documents with different legal relevance depending on the type of signature.
- Customized solutions:
you can choose the type of signature that best suits your needs, the type of document to be signed, the final recipient and the regulatory context.
the electronic signature, in full respect of privacy, represents a secure service, in line with the key principles of digital transformation.