What is a timestamp and why is it important for electronic signatures?

When a document such as a lease is signed, it is essential to document the exact time it was signed to determine its duration and the entry into force of the obligations it regulates. In this sense, the time stamp of an electronic signature guarantees the date and time when the signature occurred, making the document and the signing process secure and trustworthy. In this post, we will discuss the use of time stamps and why they are essential.

The electronic time stamp is essential because it is the element that guarantees the integrity of the signature. Essentially, it guarantees the signature is secure and that the document has not been modified.

What is the electronic timestamp?

Time stamping of the electronic signature is regulated by the eIDAS Regulation, which is defined in Article 3 as “data in electronic form which binds other data in electronic form to a particular time, establishing evidence that the latter data existed at that time.”

In addition, the eIDAS Regulation defines the qualified electronic time stamp as an electronic time stamp that meets the requirements established in Article 42, which are outlined below:

  • a) It binds the date and time to the data in such a manner as to reasonably preclude the possibility of the data being changed undetectably.
  • b) It is based on an accurate time source linked to Coordinated Universal Time.
  • c) It is signed using an advanced electronic signature or sealed with an advanced electronic seal of the qualified trust service provider or by some equivalent method.

Therefore, the electronic time stamp guarantees that the signature has taken place at a given time and cannot be modified, thus helping to avoid fraud. In addition, the time stamp guarantees that the data associated with the electronic signature (including the date, time, place, email addresses that have intervened, etc.) have not been altered.

How is the electronic timestamp issued?

The electronic timestamp cannot be provided by one of the signatories since it would not guarantee the security and integrity of the signature. Instead, it is provided by a trusted third party, such as the reliable service provider Click & Sign.

What are the legal effects of an electronic timestamp?

The electronic time stamp makes the signing process secure and reliable. The legal effects of time stamping are also regulated in the eIDAS Regulation. Based on this regulation, the legal effects of an electronic time stamp cannot be denied. Furthermore, the timestamp cannot be denied as evidence due to its electronic format or because it does not meet the requirements of the qualified seal outlined above.

Therefore, qualified electronic time stamps carry the presumption of correctness of the data and time they indicate and the integrity of the data to which the date and time are linked.

When a qualified electronic time stamp is issued by a member state of the European Union, it must be recognised by all other member states.

What are the advantages of using an electronic timestamp?

Using an electronic time stamp provides significant advantages, including the following:

  • It is easy to use and does not require the user to have specific technical knowledge.
  • It ensures the exact moment a document was signed and will not be subsequently modified.
  • It is secure. The timestamp is included in the document cannot be repudiated by the signatories and can be used as evidence in judicial proceedings.

Why is time stamping with an electronic signature important?

Timestamping with the electronic signature is essential for many contracts and documents signed by companies. Specifically, its use is essential in the following scenarios:

  • Insurance policies. It is essential to know when the coverage begins to determine, for example, whether a claim will be covered.
  • Informed consent. In the health sector, some tests and treatments require informed consent from the patient. It is significant to know the exact moment when consent was given in these cases.
  • Obligations derived from a lease for a home or a retail space (such as the payment of rent) can be enforced once the contract starts, once the date and signature have been added.
  • Employment contract. The obligations of the company and the employee arise at the time of signing the employment contract, making it essential to document its exact date.

Electronic time stamps are essential in ensuring that the signature process is secure and trustworthy and establishing the exact time the signed document takes effect. Try out the electronic signature now and see all the advantages it offers.

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