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A key development facilitating electronic transactions: Defining e-signatures.

By Ahmad Jawdat Masadeh, Special to The Star In today's world humanity is entering an era of electronic transactions, documents and information. However, the lack of trust regarding electronic commerce is an obstacle. Because electronic transactions are carried out over an open network which can't guarantee ultimate safety from errors, information loss, tampering, fraud; these matters give the impression that the Internet is not reliable.However one technology that will enhance trust is the "electronic signature".This technique allows the authentication of electronic information in such a way that the originator of the information, as well as the integrity of information, can be verified.Electronic signature and digital signature in particular can be used to authenticate all types of electronic information such as electronic mail, software, websites. It can also be used in some cases for "electronic contracts".In relation to legal frameworks, which are hostile to information in electronic form, they are being adapted to the use of these new technologies.There are several definitions to Electronic Signatures. According to the electronic signature directive Art (2) the definition is two-fold: It means data in electronic form, which is attached to or logically, associated with other electronic data and which serve as a method of authentication. Or, it means an electronic signature which meets the requirements of being uniquely linked to the signatory, it is capable of identifying the signatory, it is created using means that the signatory can maintain under his sole control and is linked to the data to which it relates in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data is detectable.Also UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Model Law on Electronic Signatures 2001 has defined electronic signature as: Data in electronic form in, affixed to or logically associated with, a data message, which may be used to identify the signatory in relation to the data message and to indicate the signatory's approval of the information contained in the data message" this definition has been adopted by the Jordanian Electronic Transaction Law number85/2001as well. However, in general it's a generic technology refers to all methods of signing electronic records, although electronic signatures are presented digitally by digital signature technology or public key infrastructure "PKI".This technology is based on "cryptography" in other words the art of transforming a message from its original form to codes.Furthermore, law requires a certain requirements to recognize electronic and digital signatures like identification, attribution and assent to achieve the goal of non-repudiation which means that non of contracting parties can deny that he or she are bounded by the contract, nevertheless law can't guarantee non-repudiation in electronic transactions but it aimed to decrease the chances of repudiation which affect negatively on the contracting parties integrity. Finally, jurisdictions aimed from all legislations is to develop the growth of e-commerce in general and electronic signatures in particular, to create a single comprehensive conception of electronic signature.

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Jul 31, 2004
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