Our world is becoming increasingly digital. The business world is shifting its business activities into the digital space, as employees increasingly perform their jobs in their home offices. In our private lives, too, many everyday things take place on the Internet: we buy clothes, groceries or electrical appliances online and prefer to take care of our banking affairs and deal with the authorities from home, without having to take the unnecessary step of going to a branch. A weak point in the digital realm is still the conclusion of online contracts with one’s own manual signature, because this is usually still done on paper. This is where the qualified electronic signature (QES for short) can provide a remedy. This guide informs you about the important properties and advantages of a QES and how it can be used.
Generally, the qualified electronic signature is created in the digital public-private key procedure. The EU eIDAS Regulation, which governs the legal framework of electronic signatures and trust services in the EU, also defines essential requirements for a QES and describes electronic signatures in Article 3 No. 10 as “data in electronic form that is attached to or logically associated with other electronic data and that the signatory uses to sign”. According to the eIDAS Regulation, the QES should meet these requirements. The QES should:
- Be uniquely identifiable to a person,
- enable the unique identification of the person,
- be created by a trust service provider, such as Swisscom Trust Services
- be based on a qualified electronic certificate, and
- prove that the document cannot be altered after the signature has been applied.