Why the electronic signature is useful for contracts

Say goodbye to paper contracts: how to sign a digital document

The digital transformation process through the development of new technologies involves different sectors and has revolutionized the way of doing business. In fact, it made possible to enter into contracts even remotely thanks to the use of the electronic signature.

What is the electronic signature? The Italian Digital Administration Code (CAD) – Legislative Decree 7 March 2005, n. 82 – defines the electronic signature as “the set of data in electronic form, attached to or logically associated with other electronic data, used as a method of computer authentication”.

The eIDAS Regulation (electronic IDentification Authentication and Signature) – EU Regulation No. 910/2014 on digital identity – aims to provide a reference for the trust services and electronic identification means of the Member States. In Chapter I, art. 3, it defines the electronic signature as “data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign”.

Furthermore, the elDAS Regulation refers to 3 types of electronic signatures:

  • Simple Electronic Signature (SES). It is the most common type of signature, does not require the use of tools for guaranteeing the authenticity and integrity of the signed document. In fact, only a judge can determine the probative value of the document on which the Simple Electronic Signature is affixed.
    Examples of SES are the ATM PIN and the username and password combination of your e-mail box;
  • Advanced Electronic Signature (AdES), which must meet the following requirements. It:
    • refers only to the signatory;
    • is suitable for identifying the signatory;
    • is created from data that the signatory can use under his own exclusive control, with high levels of security;
    • is linked to the data in order to allow the identification of any subsequent modification.

An example of AdES is the so-called graphometric signature (or handwritten biometric signature) through tablet and electronic stylus.

  • Qualified Electronic Signature (QES). It is a particular type of AES which must meet the following additional attributes. It:
    • is created on a device suitable for the creation of an electronic signature;
    • is based on a qualified electronic certificate;
    • has the same legal value as a handwritten signature.

Electronic signature, digital signature and remote digital signature. Are they the same thing?

People often use “electronic signature” as a synonym for “digital signature“. Actually, there are substantial differences between the two. In fact, while the first relates to a general legal principle, the digital signature is a type of Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) available only in Italy, regulated by the Italian CAD regulation, different from the Simple Electronic Signature.

Art. 24 of the CAD states that 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 this 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:

  • Authenticity. It must ensure the identity of the person, professional or company signing the document;
  • Integrity. It must ensure that no post-signature changes occurred to digitally signed documents;
  • Non-repudiation. It must ensure that the signatory cannot repudiate the signed document.

In addition, par. 3 of art. 24 states that the generation of the digital signature requires a qualified certificate which, at the time of subscription, has not expired, is not revoked or suspended.

Instead, the Remote Signature is a type of digital signature that allows to sign digital documents in a simple, quick and secure way through the use of a device (smartphone, tablet or PC) connected to the internet. So, no USB, smart card or reader is required. All you need is a computer connected to the internet, a signature software to select the texts to be signed and a One Time Password generated via token or app that guarantees the security of procedure.

How to activate an electronic signature. The solutions by Namirial

The use of electronic signature to sign digital contracts makes business workflows faster and more efficient. Furthermore, it limits the production and exchange of paper documents, with a positive impact on environmental sustainability. Finally, it reduces management costs and ensures legal validity for IT documents with different legal significance depending on the type of signature. In addition, the electronic signature is a secure service that respects the fundamental principles of digital transformation.

The Agency for Digital Italy (AgID) specifies that in order to have a Qualified Electronic Signature device, you must contact accredited trust service providers. These are public or private entities that issue qualified certificates (for digital signature) and authentication certificates (for national service cards).

Namirial is one of the active trust service providers in Italy and offers several solutions for digital signature:

Remote Signature

  • No shipping required;
  • No device needed;
  • Do everything with your smartphone;
  • 3 years duration
  • Cost: € 49 + VAT.

Signature on Smart Card

  • Shipping included;
  • It also works as the Italian CNS;
  • Ideal for fixed workstations;
  • 3 years duration;
  • Cost of Smart Card plus CNS Digital Signature (without USB reader): € 49 + VAT;
  • Cost of USB reader (without Smart Card): € 20 + VAT
  • Cost of the complete kit (Smart Card, CNS Digital Signature + USB Reader): € 64 + VAT.

Signature on USB Token

  • Shipping included;
  • It also works as a CNS;
  • 3 years duration;
  • Cost of the complete kit (Sim Card plus CNS Digital Signature + USB Token): € 64 + VAT;
  • Cost of Sim Card plus CNS Digital Signature (without USB Token): € 49 + VAT
  • USB Token Cost (without Sim Card): € 20 + VAT.

After the purchase, you can proceed with the identification for the activation of the Digital Signature through one of the following methods:

  • SPID (only for Italian customers);
  • CIE (only for Italian customers);
  • CNS (only for Italian customers);
  • Through webcam session;
  • Through another Digital Signature already in possession.

All these methods do not require additional costs and are all available 24/7.

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