Regulations on electronic signature

To understand the effectiveness and security of electronic signatures, it is necessary to know its legal grounds. This post explains the Spanish and international regulations on electronic signature: eIDAS Regulation, Electronic Signature Law, Civil Code, and international regulations.

The regulation on electronic signature has experienced an evolution in the last few years that has been adapted to the market’s needs regarding validity and security. There are currently many companies that rely on electronic signatures for their everyday documents.

What are the Spanish and international regulations on electronic signatures?

At the European and Spanish levels, it is worth highlighting the following regulations on electronic signatures:

  • Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC. It is also known as eIDAS Regulation and aims to establish a single legal framework for electronic signatures to mutual recognition of the validity of electronic signatures among the EU member states. The Regulation has been in force since 1 July 2016 and is structured in two parts: one part is about electronic identification, and the other part is about trust services.
  • Law 6/2020, of 11 November, governing some aspects of electronic trusted services. This law governs only those aspects where the eIDAS Regulation refers to the decision of the Member States. The law was published on 12 November 2020 and became effective on the following day. One of the aims of this law is to ensure that there are no legal gaps that might lead to legal uncertainty. The law regulates the following points:
    • Risk prevention regime for qualified service providers.
    • Penalty regime
    • Verification of the identity and attributes of qualified certificate applicants.
    • Additional requirements for qualified certificates.
  • The most important aspects of the regulation on electronic signature in the public sector in Spain are as follows:

Global e-signature regulations

Thanks to the use of the Internet, many companies have been able to cross national borders and boost international trade. Against this background, it is essential to have the technology to sign documents securely and legally recognised with customers and companies in other countries.

International regulations on electronic signature are based on international standards and country-specific regulations.

In terms of international standards for electronic signatures, two standards stand out:

  • ETSI EN 319 401 – Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures (ESI); General Policy Requirements for Trust Service Providers.
  • ISO/IEC 29115:2013 “Information Technology – Security Techniques – Entity Authentication Garante Framework”. (ITU X.1254: Entity authentication assurance framework).

By analysing the regulations on electronic signatures in some countries, it is worth highlighting the following:

  • On the African continent, we highlight the Regulation of South Africa, which can be found in the South African Common Law and Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 No. 25 of 2002. This rule ensures the admissibility of electronic communications in South Africa and addresses the evidentiary validity of data messages.
  • In America, several regulations stand out:
    • Argentina: In Argentina, the evidentiary value of private documents is regulated in the Civil Code, and there is a law on digital signatures.
    • Brazil: Its Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure regulate the validity of documents signed with an electronic signature
    • Chile: In Chile, Law No. 19799 of 2002 regulates electronic documents, electronic signatures and certification services for electronic signatures.
    • Colombia regulates electronic signatures in Law No. 527 of 1999, which defines and regulates the access and use of data messages, electronic commerce and digital signatures, and establishes certification entities and other provisions.
    • Panama: Law No. 43 of 31 July 2001 regulates electronic documents and signatures, certification entities in electronic commerce, and electronic documents exchange.
    • The Dominican Republic Particularly noteworthy is the Law on Electronic Commerce, Documents and Digital Signatures No. 126-02.
    • The United States: In the United States, there are two important standards: the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“E-SIGN Act”) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).
    • Uruguay: Law 18.600 of 21 September 2009 on electronic documents and electronic signatures is in force in Uruguay
  • Asia’s Regulation on electronic signature, the Information Technology Act 2000 and the Indian Evidence Act is worth mentioning in Asia.

Both Spanish and international regulations on electronic signatures provide a detailed legislative framework for the use of electronic signatures so that the confidence of individuals and companies in their use becomes greater.

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