Part I: Electronic signatures, from technology to law
Chapter 1: Signatures A. The electronic environment In order to understand electronic signatures it is first necessary to understand the medium in which they function. Electronic signatures are used in electronic communications, electronic documents and electronic transactions, which take place in channels that are not always secure, either because they are open networks to which everyone has access, like the Internet, or because, in the case of closed networks, unauthorized persons may gain access to them through attacks.1 Insecurity may arise with regard to three spheres: insecurity as to the identity of persons, insecurity as to the integrity of information and insecurity as to the privacy of information.2 These risks are common to all types of communications but present new angles when in connection with the electronic medium. I. Identity of the person Proper identification of a person is necessary to ensure secure online transactions.3 This is especially true for transactions with legal relevance, such as when purchasing goods or contracting services, where it is important to know with whom a contract is being entered into.4 However, when entering into a contract via electronic means the other party is sometimes unknown and there is no certainty as to his or her identity.5 Even in electronic transactions where contracting parties know and trust each other, there is always the risk that the 1 Ferguson / Schneier, Practical Cryptography, 2003, pp. 21-22. 2 Boyd / Mathuria, Protocols for Authentication and Key Establishment, 2003, pp. 4-12; Bruen / Forcinito, Cryptography, Information Theory, and...
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