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eIDAS levels of electronic signatures

eIDAS explained:

eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) is an EU regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions that applies as law within the whole of the EU.

The goal of the eIDAS regulation, which began to take effect in 2016, is to facilitate the smooth flow of commerce in the EU through transparency, security, technical neutrality, cooperation, and interoperability. In pursuit of these values, eIDAS:

  • Standardises the use of electronic identification (eID)

  • Defines a new class of “electronic trust services” (eTS)

  • Clarifies and ensures the legal validity of electronic signatures

  • Creates a European internal market within the EU for electronic trust services:

These standards apply across borders as well as within individual member countries.

The eIDAS regulation defines three types of electronic signatures: (Basic) Electronic Signature, Advanced Electronic Signature, and Qualified Electronic Signature.

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eIDAS: electronic signature levels

Basic Electronic Signature: ES

In practice, a basic electronic signature can be any kind of signature made in an electronic environment where the signatory has manifested their intent (e.g., by clicking a button or checking a box) to become bound by the contents of the document thus signed.

Advanced Electronic Signature: AES

According to eIDAS, “An advanced electronic signature shall meet the following requirements:

  1. it is uniquely linked to the signatory;

  2. it is capable of identifying the signatory;

  3. it is created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control; and

  4. it is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable”.

As the eIDAS Regulation is technology neutral, these elements of unique identity, sole control and integrity of the signed document can be achieved through different means regardless of what technology is used.

Unique identity and sole control are ensured by using an appropriate eID or ID Verification service (integrated to Scrive) and the integrity element is always ensured when using Scrive eSign.

Qualified Electronic Signature: QES

According to eIDAS, “‘qualified electronic signature’ means an advanced electronic signature that is created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures”.

In practice, the use of Qualified Electronic Signatures invokes an extra layer of assurance (or trust) that results in a special legal effect that shall be recognised by the courts in the EU.

For more information on QES, visit our Trust Center.

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