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What is the legal value of an electronic signature?


In the past, many people were reluctant to use electronic documents or signatures, questioning their legal validity and ability to use them as evidence in court cases or other legal contexts.

Here in this text the idea is to approach a little of what we have seen in these years, since the MP2200 that gave legal validity to electronic signatures. The idea in this article is a look at a technology company, so we will cover some signature models to help you in the process of defining a type of e-signature that fits well for every business in your institution.

Consulte o departamento jurídico

It is worth remembering that you should always consult with the legal department to find out what type of electronic signature should be used for each business in your organization.

Having made these initial considerations, let’s get to it. In most Western countries this reluctance to use electronic signatures is already unnecessary, as legislation has been updated to recognize electronic documents and signatures. In other words, it cannot be denied legal effect, enforceability, or admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings just because they are in electronic format.

To get an idea of the impact of electronic signatureIn the US the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and other (state) laws also regulate in this regard.

Here in Brazil it could be no different. Through Provisional Measure No. 2200 of August 24, 2001, almost 19 years ago, which established the Brazilian Public Key Infrastructure, the ICP-Brasil, the authenticity, integrity, and legal validity of documents in electronic form, support applications, and enabled applications that use digital certificates, as well as secure electronic transactions were guaranteed.

Additionally, he also talks about other forms of electronic signatures without the need for digital certificates, which add value to the business, so it is important that the legal area of the institution validates which electronic signature model should be used in each case.

In addition, we have the Civil Code and the National Tax Code that also serve as the legal basis for the use of the electronic signature in electronic transactions.

E-signatures represent one of the biggest opportunities to start doing digital business

What is an electronic signature? This is a signature made electronically using information systems, in which there are several types, among the best known:

  • Digital Signature ICP-Brasil;
  • Digital Signature;
  • Electronic signature with third-party seal;
  • Behavioral e-signature;
  • Authenticated electronic signature;
  • Basic electronic signature;

Most of them seek to identify the author of the action, others furthermore seek the integrity of the data, and finally, the most secure one also seeks a mechanism that guarantees non-repudiation.

So we are sharing with you different types of existing subscriptions for you to learn about, helping you with the choice of the best alternative – be it your institution. Our goal is to explain and help, not to set absolute rules. Because there may be specific legislation, rules and/or standards for different specializations, performances, and documents to be signed.

Thus, this guide does not assume that it is necessary to choose only one type of signature in the institution; several types of signature can coexist in the same infrastructure, responding to different types of needs and documents, providing a secure and scalable way of digital transformation of the institution.

Conheça as vantagens da assinatura eletrônica para empresas brasileiras

Main Features

In order to reflect the same legal value as a handwritten signature, an online electronic signature must meet the following conditions:

  • The signer must have an associated identity;
  • The intention to sign is also another important question;
  • Integrity is important, so the document to be signed must be original, unalterable and uneditable;
  • Another important point is whether the signature system is auditable, whether it provides important information for future verification;

Anyway, there are other features that can be added and provide even more security, but this should be the basics.

Are electronic signatures legal everywhere?

The answer is that it depends on where you are doing business.

In 27 countries – including Brazil, China, the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and European Union countries – the electronic signature is legally binding. Besides believing in the security of electronic signatures, it is essential that you research the laws and the weight of digital or electronic signatures in the country you are in.

If you live in a country that has not yet passed legislation, you can of course fall into a gray area of the law and your electronic signature will be accepted in many if not most contracts, however, it may not be legally binding in court.

So, which electronic documents are really valid?

In short, any electronic version should be considered equal to its equivalent version, ensuring that it meets the functional characteristics of the formal requirements of the applicable law.

Only in specific situations should an explicit paper document be used, for example to buy real estate in most countries you will need to go to a notary or legal representative for an action.

Fortunately, in most personal or business situations, the format of the document is the individual’s choice, even to the extent of a contract written on a napkin, if desired!

Examples of electronic signatures:

Basically there are different types of documents to be signed electronically:

  • Internal Authorizations,
  • E-mails,
  • Commercial contracts,
  • Contracts with suppliers,
  • NDA;
  • Internal memos,
  • HR Processes,
  • Purchase orders.

In short, all processes, forms, contracts that need a signature can use the electronic signature, as long as they do not have legislation mandating the use of handwritten signatures. Finally, it is necessary to pay attention to whether the type of document to be signed has specific legislation for the case. So always consult the legal department.

In addition, there are different file formats for signed documents, including:

  • Word format,
  • PDF,
  • XML,
  • Image formats, like JPG or PNG for example.

The most common file format is PDF, because it is easy to view and there is already a culture of it being a format that does not change. So you can have a prior negotiation of what is going to be signed, and then when everyone is in agreement, the PDF is generated with the content to be signed.

The electronic signature is already a reality

In a survey done by EVAL at CIAB 2019, 92% of decision makers said they use electronic signatures. No wonder that most of today’s transactions can already be signed electronically.

Think of the plethora of online documents formed with the click of an “I Accept” button, or with a name typed at the end of a reply e-mail, or authenticating the user, as well as obtaining a behavioral electronic signature, or even a digital signature.

The latter, the ICP-Brasil digital signature, is always compared to the notary-authenticated handwritten signature, so if you have documents that require notary authentication this may be the recommended electronic signature model. But remember, always consult the legal department to know the best electronic signature model to be used for each business of your institution.

About Eval

A EVAL está a mais de 18 anos desenvolvendo projetos nos segmentos financeiro, saúde, educação e indústria, Desde 2004, oferecemos soluções de Autenticação, Assinatura Eletrônica e Digital e Proteção de Dados. Atualmente, estamos presente nos principais bancos brasileiros, instituições de saúde, escolas e universidades, além de diferentes indústrias.

Com valor reconhecido pelo mercado, as soluções e serviços da EVAL atendem aos mais altos padrões regulatórios das organizações públicas e privadas, tais como o SBIS, ITI, PCI DSS, e a LGPD. Na prática, promovemos a segurança da informação e o compliance, o aumento da eficiência operacional das empresas, além da redução de custos.

Inove agora, lidere sempre: conheça as soluções e serviços da Eval e leve sua empresa para o próximo nível.

Eval, segurança é valor.


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