Abstract: Due to the rapid growth of Electronic Commerce, the legal classification of digital signatures and certificates, which are fundamental tools for contracts via the Internet, is of vital interest. Security against fraud and misuse must at least be equal to traditionally signed written papers. This paper will discuss the impact of the proposal of an EU-directive concerning Digital Signatures, granting in Article 5 qualified digital signatures the same legal effects as the hand-written signature, and Article 2 of UNCITRAL’s Draft Uniform Rules on Electronic Signatures, which states independent presumptions on proof. The procedure of digital signing, using the framework of a strong Public Key Infrastructure, will be compared with hand-written signing, examining the classical function of a signature to verify the signer’s identity, worked out by legal science. We will demonstrate that using current technologies, digital signatures fulfil the function of authentication. The second part will concentrate on the most crucial function of verification using biometric methods to assure identification of the communication partners on the same level as using hand-written signatures on paper
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