In the UK, the use of electronic and digital signatures on documents has become increasingly popular as technology has advanced. However, many people are still unsure of the difference between the two. This article will outline the key differences between electronic signatures and digital signatures, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
What is an electronic signature or an eSignature?
An electronic signature, also known as an e-signature or eSignature, is a symbol or process attached to or associated with a document in order to indicate the signer’s agreement to the contents of the document. Electronic signatures can take the form of a typed name, a scanned signature, or a graphical representation of a signature. Electronic signatures can be used for a variety of purposes, including contracts, forms, and consent forms.
What is a digital signature?
One of the main differences between electronic signatures and digital signatures is the level of security they provide. A digital signature is a more secure form of electronic signature than an electronic signature. It uses encryption and digital certificates to verify the authenticity of the document and the signer. Digital signatures are considered to be a higher form of security than electronic signatures because they use encryption and digital certificates to verify the authenticity of the document and the signer.
This means that the document is protected from tampering and the signer’s identity is verified, reducing the risk of fraud or other malicious activity. Digital signatures also provide a clear record of who signed the document and when making it easier to track changes and detect any potential issues.
Differences between electronic signatures and digital signatures
Another key difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures is the level of legal recognition they have. Electronic signatures are legally recognised in the UK under the Electronic Communications Act 2000, which states that electronic signatures can be used for the same purposes as traditional signatures, provided that the electronic signature is reliable, and the signer’s identity is verified. The use of digital signatures is regulated by the Electronic Identity Verification Regulation 2016 and the Electronic Identification Regulation 2017 in the UK, and these regulations set out the minimum standards for digital signatures and ensure that they are secure and reliable.
Digital signatures are considered to have a higher level of legal recognition as they provide a higher level of security and authentication.
It is important to note that not all electronic signatures are considered to be secure enough to be used for legal purposes. In order to ensure the security and reliability of electronic signatures, it is important to follow best practices for document security and signer authentication. This includes verifying the signer’s identity, using secure communications channels, and storing signed documents in a secure location.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
In terms of advantages, electronic signatures are faster and more convenient to use than traditional signatures, as they can be completed electronically from anywhere with an internet connection. They also reduce the risk of paper-based errors and increase efficiency by allowing multiple parties to sign a document simultaneously. Digital signatures, on the other hand, provide a higher level of security and legal recognition, they provide a hight level of authentication as well as a clear record of who signed the document and when. Electronic signatures have a lower level of authentication and are more vulnerable to tampering.
A disadvantage of digital signatures is that they can be more complex and difficult to use, as they require a higher level of technical knowledge and access to digital certificates. There are also costs associated with obtaining and issuing digital signatures which need to be factored into a business’s operating costs.
How can we help you with your electronic and digital signatures?
Both electronic signatures and digital signatures have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the individual or law firm. Electronic signatures are faster and more convenient to use but provide a lower level of security and legal recognition. Digital signatures, on the other hand, provide a higher level of security and legal recognition but are more complex and difficult to use. When deciding which type of signature to use, it is important to consider the level of security and legal recognition required, as well as the ease of use and convenience. Read more here about our electronic signature solution and contact us if you would like to discuss it further.