Will eIDAS change the game?
You have probably heard the term eIDAS hovering around discussions about electronic signature business. What does it really mean for your business?
The eIDAS is a framework for interoperability of public sector eServices between European countries. The goal is to make it possible for private persons to use public sector eServices between EU countries.
EU has already had a legal framework for cross-border electronic signatures from the year 1999. eIDAS replaces the older directive and is given in the format of a regulation instead of a directive. Difference is that the legal framework is now more uniform than it was before. In addition to signatures, electronic identification and trust services related to signatures and authentication are also now regulated.
Electronic signatures by persons have not changed much. In the framework, highest level signature is renamed and there are detailed technical requirements for its creation device. Electronic signatures by organizations are now defined and they are called Electronic Seals.
Part of the interoperability between countries is the ability to compare different authentication methods from different countries. A new 3-level classification system is also defined.
Electronic signature 3-level classification system
eIDAS will not be the game changer in electronic signature business, at least not yet. It changes things in the public sector but does not yet bring the same framework to private sector usage. Current estimation is that eIDAS based cross-border authentication for business usage will be possible in 2020, but the functionalities and cost structures used have not been defined yet.
Electronic signatures had a strong legal standing before eIDAS, and this continues also after eIDAS. Electronic signatures that were created before eIDAS continue to be legally binding. Creating new agreements or other documents with electronic signatures can be easier after eIDAS in some cases. This is mainly true in cases where electronic stamps can be used. On the technical side eIDAS also helps this with defined signature formats and a framework for time stamps.