We have GOT TO make things simpler

Werner Koch wk at gnupg.org
Sat Oct 5 13:12:16 CEST 2019

On Fri,  4 Oct 2019 21:28, Stefan Claas said:

> Well, I was wrong. It seems that the U.S. ESIGN Act is pretty relaxed
> and does not need such strong requirements like in the EU.

The EU neither.  Even the Qualifizierte Elektronische Signatur,
introduced in Germany ages ago, is not anymore a requirement for the
majority of transactions.  In fact the Einfache Elektronische Signatur
(i.e. your name below a email) is often sufficient.  It is the same as
with handwritten signatures - if it comes to a litigation the court
decides and evaluates the entire circumstances.  Having a government
issued token (e.g. a qualified electronic signature) puts more trust
into the validity of the signature but still allows the signer to
repudiate the signature just by telling that the token was lost and the
PIN was on an attached post-it.

Recall that for VAT purposes (the major revenue source of almost
countries) no signature on digital invoices is required.  A EU decision
once overturned the German requirement for a government issued qualified
signature on invoices and thus was the tombstone for the qualified
electronic signature (modulo that some companies try to keep them alive
as their business model but that, along with their questionable legal
hack, is a different story).

It is a perfectly okay to allow a Fortgeschrittene Elektronische
Signatur (advanced electronic sigature, i.e. S/MIME or OpenPGP) to
replace a handwritten signature if that has been stated in contracts or
constitutional documents or their bylaws.  This prima facie evidence is
nearly always sufficient unless notarial documents are anyway required.

There is a lot of literature on that topic which can easily be found and
studied.  It is is not the topic of this technical mailing list, though.



Die Gedanken sind frei.  Ausnahmen regelt ein Bundesgesetz.
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