Advanced electronic signatures

Italian Prime Ministerial Decree dated 22 February 2013 lays down new technical rules for the generation, affixing and verification of advanced, qualified and digital electronic signatures.

In particular, the implementation of provisions on so-called Advanced electronic signatures contained in article 1, paragraph 1, letter. q-bis) of the Digital Administration Code deserves particular attention (advanced electronic signatures are defined as a set of electronic data attached or connected to an electronic document which allows whoever has signed the document to be identified. Such document is created with the use of a medium over which the signatory can maintain an exclusive control and which allows the detection of data which has been subsequently modified).

Article 55 specifies that the implementation of advanced electronic signature solutions is free and does not require prior authorization to be obtained (paragraph 1), as well as also specifying that these solutions can be provided to third parties in the context of a business activity ( paragraph 2).

Those who wish to offer these solutions to Italian governmental authorities must, in any event, be in possession of specific quality certifications, whereas such quality certifications will – in the event that they are provided to private bodies – be useful to provide evidence of the safety of the systems being provided.

Fundamental, then, are the provisions set forth in article 56 which specify that the advantages inherent in such signature are:

a) The possibility of identifying the signatory;

b) The tracing back of the signature to the signatory, as well as to the document;

c) The exclusive control that the signatory has in terms of generating the signature (which can also be generated by using biometric data);

d) The possibility of verifying that the signed electronic document has not been altered since it was signed;

e) The possibility for a party to obtain evidence of about what has been the undersigned;

f) The absence of any element in the signed document which is capable of modifying the facts or data represented therein;

In the coming months/years, we will see whether the afore-mentioned legislation encourages or hinders the entry of new players in electronic document signature market.


This post is also available in: Italian