According to the Swiss Federal Office of Communications OFCOM, an electronic signature is a technical procedure which makes it possible to guarantee the authenticity of a document, a message or other electronic data and to ensure the identity of the signatory.
The electronic signature (e-signature) is therefore a digitally created signature. It contains algorithms to generate these signatures uniquely and to ensure the integrity of the content. It is therefore traceable by whom, which content was signed.
No mediabreak: The sender often sends a document to be signed by e-mail. The recipient prints the document, signs it, scans it again and sends it back by e-mail. With the electronic signature, such a media break no longer occurs and the efficiency can be increased.
Global: It doesn't matter where the signing person may be in the world. The document can be signed quickly and at any time. There is no need for time-consuming and expensive mailing.
Legally compliant proof: You have control over who signed what and when. Print screens or printouts of e-mails can be manipulated and are not a legal proof (see article on e-mail misunderstandings & half-truths). With an electronically signed and sealed document, it is almost impossible to change the content. Also, the identity of the person who electronically signed the document can be clearly identified.
Whether an electronic signature is legally valid depends on the type of signature. The following types of e-signature exist:
As a result, advanced electronic signatures and qualified electronic signatures are legally effective under consideration of the legal requirements. Interesting: the eIDAS Regulation (Article 25, paragraph 1) states that a signed document does not become invalid when the wrong level of an electronic signature has been used. Excluded from this, however, are those areas where a qualified signature is legally required by law.
It depends. The scanned signature and the simple electronic signature are equivalent. But an advanced or qualified electronic signature is not the same thing as a scanned signature. Because in this case checksums are computed and usedfor verification. This checksum is generated by the sender when signing the electronic file and is encrypted with a private key. The recipient decrypts the checksum with the corresponding public key. If the checksums match, both parties can be sure that the integrity (unchanged content) of the document is guaranteed. These factors do not apply to a scanned signature or a simple electronic signature.
The term electronic signature describes the entire process in which the consent to a contract is expressed. The digital signature is a part of the electronic signature and describes the process of checksum creation and encryption.