Identity Adventures From the Digital/Analogue Frontline

Digital SignatureA few days ago I received communication from my domain provider with a bill, which was signed electronically. The paragraph referring to this read:

“Als Anlage finden Sie eine neue Rechnung als .pdf-Datei mit digitaler Signatur (Rechnungsnummer: xxxxxxxxxxxxx).

Bei der Signatur handelt es sich um eine rechtsverbindliche Signatur nach dem Signaturgesetz (SigG). Somit erfüllt die Rechnung die gesetzlichen Vorschriften nach §14 Umsatzsteuergesetz.

Unter diesem Link können Sie die Signatur jederzeit prüfen:

[As attachment you will find a new invoice as .pdf file with a digital signature (invoice #).

The signature is legally binding after the signature law (SigG). With that the invoice fulfills the legal requirements according to §14 VAT law.

You can check the signature any time at the link given.]

I sent a reply letter in which I canceled one of the domains which I will not need anymore. I used their PDF form and signed it electronically with my SuisseID.


SuisseID Logo

The SuisseID also signs my email electronically. This is what the signature on the PDF file looks like on the document when viewed with the Acrobat Reader:

To make sure the other party will not miss the fact that the document is legally signed I inserted a paragraph into the accompanying letter using their text above:

“Das beiliegende Formular ist rechtsgültig elektronisch unterzeichnet. Bei der Signatur handelt es sich um eine rechtsverbindliche Signatur nach Schweizer Recht (Art. 59a Obligationenrecht). Somit erfüllt die Kündigung die gesetzlichen Vorschriften.”
[The form enclosed is legally electronically signed. The signature is a legally binding signature according to Swiss law (Art. 59a Swiss Code of Obligations). With that the cancellation fulfills the legal requirements.]

The following day I received a mail asking me to send the form again by fax and hand-signed. I called to make sure that they understood that I had signed the document electronically and legally binding. But they answered they would need my real signature since this cancellation of a domain is a severe transaction which cannot be done just with an electronic signature.

Take home lesson:  Electronic signatures are fine for little things. But when it comes to serious business a faxed (!) signature is needed.


I can't believe its not digital . . .

I can’t believe this!

On another note. I recently worked for a company that produces the electronic ID cards which are used for the SuisseID. I signed the contract electronically and legally binding and received a call where I was asked to sign it by hand and send it per post. So even the company producing the cards for electronic signatures does not accept electronic signatures itself.

Digital Signature—Your Day May Come — Eventually!

About Hellmuth Broda

Independent Information and Communications Technology Strategist with an interest in the construction sites between business, society and technology.
This entry was posted in Identity Management and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Identity Adventures From the Digital/Analogue Frontline

  1. A Thorne says:

    I believe(d?) that the receiving party is legally obliged to accept a qualified (electronic) signature in place of a “hand” signature.

    However the term “qualfied” is critical. Although the SuisseID signature is a qualified signature, it is possible that neither recipient understood this.

    Obviously it was easier for you to send a fax/letter than to try to argue about it.

  2. Thanks for this comment. I just found it hilarious that a hand signed faxed document has a higher “legal” value than the digitally signed document.
    My suspicion is that the department sending out the invoices is equipped with the digital means to deal with electronic signatures but the department that deals with cancellations is not . . .

  3. Pingback: “You Have Zero Privacy Anyway — Get Over It” (Really?) « Pondering Technology

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