There are few legally correct aspects of the electronic signature that are known, so in this short article, we try to discuss four of the most important aspects that should be known.
The electronic signature can bring major advantages in terms of the efficiency of the companies activity, individuals and last but not least, the efficiency of public authorities, by reducing bureaucracy and workload. The time, the costs of printing and sending the documents in physical format by courier, queuing up in relation with the public authorites, are just some of the major advantages that the correct use of electronic signature can bring.
In Romania, the first law regarding electronic signature dates from 2001, and at European level there is a Regulation from 2014, which is directly applicable in all E.U. Member States. In addition, on March 2020, an Emergency Ordinance was adopted, requiring public authorities and institutions to receive electronically signed documents.
The first aspect that needs to be known is that not all so-called electronic signatures, this term being used and misunderstood/incomplete, give the correct legal effects. For example, applying the holographic signature image/picture to a document does not constitute a qualified extended electronic signature.
The second aspect worth mentioning is that, from a legal point of view, there are three recognized types of electronic signatures, namely: simple electronic signature, extended/advanced electronic signature and extended electronic signature, based on a qualified certificate – qualified extended electronic signature.
The third aspect is that only the qualified extended electronic signature has the same effects as the holographic signature („handwritten signature”) and the electronic document thus signed has the same legal value as a letter-based document („on paper”). The latter involves a device (token usable based on a password) and a qualified certificate, issued by an authorized provider, included in a list that can be found on the website of the Ministry of Communications and Information Security. The qualified electronic signature thus authorized is valid in all EU Member States.
The fourth aspect is that signing on an electronic device (for example, pad) with a pen that transposes on that device the imitation/representation of the holographic signature (the so-called graphometric signature) does not turn the signature in question into an extended electronic qualified signature. Contrary to incorrect opinions, expressed in a public space, in the context of the declarations on one’s responsibility, necessary during the state of emergency, we appreciate that imitating the handwritten signature with the finger, pen or other instrument, on the mobile phone screen does not constitute a qualified extended electronic signature, nor the handwritten signature, but a make-do, given several legal and technical arguments, which is not the place to detail them here.
Qualified extended electronic signature, used correctly, can bring in the 21 century the signing of the contracts, addresses, lawsuits, declarations submitted to public authorities, documentation submitted in public tenders procedures, etc.