Apr 19, 2021

What is a Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) and its characteristics

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What is a Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) and its characteristics

Qualified electronic signature (QES) is perceived as the most complete and secure method to prove the identity of a subject and the acceptance of the content of a document.

Electronic signature is born from a legal concept for its use and definition, linked to the concept of the traditional handwritten signature, identifying a signing subject who accepts a text.

The qualified electronic signature (QES)

Among the different types of electronic signature, the qualified signature is the one that provides the highest level of security and truthfulness. Although it is more complex than the rest of them, it provides legal validity with a level of legitimacy even higher than the traditional handwritten signature.

Qualified electronic signature is an electronic signature that is made with a qualified certificate for identifying the signer. This certificate consists of an electronic document that links the data of the signer and the validation of the signature to the unequivocal identification of the subject. The certificate must have been issued by a qualified certification authority.

A qualified electronic signature would not need any type of expert evidence in a court in case of conflict since it is considered as totally valid evidence with the highest level of legitimacy, originality and inviolability required.

The qualified electronic signature shares all the characteristics of the advanced electronic signature, such as being linked to the signer in a unique and non-transferable way and being linked to the document to be signed in such a way that both the signature and the document cannot be altered in a later process.

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Qualified electronic signature types

Qualified electronic signature can be generated in two different variants, which differ mainly by its generation process and the type of qualified certificate:

Local qualified electronic signature 

The electronic certificate for local qualified electronic signature is hosted on the signer’s device. These certificates can be generated on a cryptographic card, through a USB token or as a cryptographic seal software

This type of qualified electronic signature works in any operating system and browser since it is installed on the signer’s device previously. It is the standard and most common method for using a qualified signature.

Centralized qualified electronic signature

The signature and qualified certificate are located in a single repository on a secure and supervised server

This second type of qualified electronic signature is commonly used in organizations; it is more versatile and the signer can access it from any computer or mobile device with internet access. Still, centralized qualified electronic signature services are offered for individuals, with all its advantages and versatility.

Simple and advanced electronic signature 

The concept of electronic signature, known as a simple electronic signature, refers to data in an electronic format that is logically associated with others. That is, associating a signature with a document to accept its content. However, it does not require any type of additional security and legitimacy requirement, in such a way that the validity of the simple electronic signature is low.

However, the advanced electronic signature goes one step further, developing a series of characteristics related to its security and veracity that give it legitimacy and validity:

  • It is uniquely linked to the subject who signs.
  • It identifies the signatory with further evidence apart from the “graphics” that represents the signature itself.
  • It is created with data that just the signatory can make use of and that is under his exclusive control.
  • It ensures that both the signed document and the signature itself are protected in such a way that they cannot be modified, or in a way that any kind of modification will be evident and registered.

Thus, qualified electronic signature is an additional step in the legitimacy, security and control of the electronic signature, complying with the requirements of the advanced signature. Despite being more complex, it is backed by a qualified certificate issued by a qualified certification authority.

Electronic Signature Regulations

910/2014 European Union Regulation regarding electronic identification and trust services, known as eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services), describes the different types of electronic signature. It is the pioneering rule for electronic signature worldwide and the standard in which the regulations of other states and countries are set to develop their own regulations.

Download here for free this complete guide on eIDAS and AML5

AML5 (or 5AMLD), together with eIDAS, have an effective and comprehensive regulatory framework to promote opportunities in the digital industry. Despite being European regulations, other states such as Mexico or the United States (with its UETA Act and E-Sign Act regulations) recognize and manage electronic signature.

SignatureID: Electronic IDentification’s qualified electronic signature 

SignatureID is set as a complete QES electronic signature solution. It adapts to the needs of each situation and medium, and can be used as a simple, advanced or qualified electronic signature

SignatureID can be integrated into companies’ applications and websites so that its users can sign documents and make contracts or any type of issue that requires a signature in seconds.

Request information about SignatureID by contacting Electronic IDentification by this form.

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