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8. Digital signatures

8.1. European Commission - Directive on electronic signatures proposed

On 13 May 1998 the European Commission released the Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures - COM(1998)297final , with the purpose of facilitating the development of electronic commerce in the European Union. The draft directive follows the communication on digital signatures and encryption adopted in October 1997 (see LABnews October 1997 - )

On the basis that technology is developing at a fast pace, the proposal adopts a technology-neutral approach to the issue of electronic signatures, thus covering, for instance, digital signatures using asymmetric encryption or biometrics.

The proposal stipulates inter alia that an electronic signature cannot be legally discriminated against solely on the grounds that it is in electronic form. Essential requirements for signature certificates and certification services are set as well as a ban on storing private signature keys.

Minimum liability rules are established for service providers, and specifically the proposal establishes their liability with respect to the validity of a certificate’s content.

The text of the proposal is available on the Internet at

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