Practical guide to electronic signature of documents

With the advent of technology and information dematerialisation systems, electronic signature software is emerging as an essential tool for SMEs and large institutions. Far from being a simple scan of the handwritten signature, it respects well-defined legal standards. This practical guide looks at the subject of electronic signatures and their characteristics and advantages for professionals.

What is digital signature software?

Digital signature software is a solution for authenticating an electronic form or document. It allows the signatory to sign a document without the need to print it. This secure commitment mechanism uses cryptographic techniques. To be recognised as valid, the digital signature must take into account 3 types of requirements: the authenticity of the document, the proof of the signatory's agreement and the identity of the person signing the document. It can be used to certify purchase orders, commercial contracts, sales agreements, etc.

Does the digital signature have any legal value?

Today, legislation gives the same legal value to digital signatures as to paper signatures, provided that the authenticity of the document signed by the signatory is proven. According to the Civil Code, it is defined as "the use of a reliable identification process guaranteeing its link with the act to which it is attached". In other words, it is a procedure that shows that the document has not been falsified and that provides proof that the signatory is the person he or she claims to be. The digital signature therefore has a legal value, as it can certify the integrity and identity of the signatory through data encryption technology. This encryption technique, which consists of encoding information for someone who does not hold the key, optimises the level of data protection. New electronic signature software offers asymmetric encryption where each of the two parties has two unique keys included in different media (sim card, smart card, USB key, etc.). For it to be valid, it is important to use a certified service provider or to have an authorisation from a certification authority. The role of these institutions is to establish a link between a private key and the identity of the signatory. Only the certification body has the capacity to issue and install an electronic certificate (digital identity card allowing you to affix your signature to a document).

What are the benefits of the digital signature?

The benefits of digital signatures are numerous, which is why this method is becoming increasingly popular with many companies. - Saves money on mailing costs; - guarantees the security and reliability of the information; - saves considerable time; - simplifies the agreement process between two parties; - avoids the accumulation of paperwork and therefore protects the environment from waste pollution; - gives the possibility to certify a document anywhere and anytime.
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