E-signature regulation coming to Europe

published on E-signature technology
Despite the fact that the first EU e-signature Directive has been in place since 1999, the adoption of e-signatures has been slow across all industries. Many organizations prefer to stick with paper processes because they still believe that a handwritten signature on a piece of paper is more valid. According to a study by Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) on how organizations are moving away from paper processes, more than 50% of respondents reported they print out documents for the purpose of adding a signature. However, changes in e-signature technology and regulation indicate it’s time to take a look at the technology.

New regulations:

By July 1, the EU will implement a new e-signature regulation, known as eIDAS, which will apply to all 28 member states. The eIDAS brings a lot of good news along with it. The new regulation means that all types of e-signatures legally enforceable in court as evidence of agreement between parties. Organizations are free to choose which type of e-signature they use in most corporate processes. eIDAS will replace the majority of the national e-signature laws associated with the 1999 Directive. For example:
  • It will prevent countries from over-defining e-signatures, caused by different interpretations of the 1999 directive into national laws.
  • It fills in the gaps from the Directive to cover obligations for e-signature service providers.
  • It streamlines e-signature technology by identifying three levels of e-signatures: e-signature, advanced e-signature (is linked to, and capable of identifying the signatory, and is linked to data so that any changes are traceable) and qualified e-signature (an advanced electronic signature that is issued by a qualified service provider).

What you should do:

The benefits of e-signature range from productivity to enforceability in court, and help organizations have a much faster signing process. However, organizations that already use e-signatures or are considering it should:
  • Map and identify signature processes, and whether they need to meet additional legal requirements.
  • Make sure everyone understand the new eIDAS Regulation.
  • Establish a procedure to create, use, and manage documents that contain e-signatures.
  • Train staff how to use e-signature technology.

Takeaway:

Since the regulation will come into effect as of July 1, 2016, organizations still have time to learn and understand the regulations and the impact it will have. eIDAS aims to streamline e-signature technology in addition to reducing paper. It serves the functional aspect for organizations that want to implement e-signatures and provides comfort that if the solution complies with the eIDAS, that it complies with the regulations of any EU member country. Source: AIIM.