Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Legal aspects of digital signatures

The European Commission, DG XV, has published a call for tender (No XV/96/51/E) for the completion of a study on the legal and regulatory aspects of digital signatures.

Digital signatures will be one of the key elements for the further development of new (on-line) financial and business transactions (electronic commerce) as well as electronic mail. Member States and trading partners are looking into the need to adapt, or are already amending, national regulations in order to provide for legal validity and enable business and citizens to use digital signatures without risk.

In order to ensure the functioning of the Internal Market, and complementary to its information security activities, the Commission wishes to analyse divergences between national regulatory frameworks for digital signatures and any resulting potential regulatory barriers.

The study should provide a complete overview of policies, existing and envisaged rules and regulations, as well as (de facto) practices (including export controls) relating to the use of digital signatures in the Member States and in the EC's main trading partners. The study should detect potential obstacles and assess their impact in the light of: Articles 52/59 of the Treaty; the regulatory regime resulting from the Uruguay Round; and the New Forum rules on export controls for strategic products.

The study should also investigate possible solutions, elaborate on the relevant elements of regulation and should allow the Commission to engage in regulatory cooperation with the Union's main trading partners in order to avoid unnecessary non-tariff trade barriers.
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