Digital Signature – Governments’ choice for electronic documents

The expansion of electronic documents usage carries substantial benefits along with challenges to the traditional working environment. Government departments and state institutions around the world are no different to any other business. They too are looking for ways to improve service efficiency, reduce costs, and respond to the current business climate. A recent case to the ever changing conditions is shown in Gartner’s latest report (8 September 2011) that predicts a sharp drop (from projection of 9.3 percent to 3.8 percent) in PC shipment growth due to a market shift to devices like tablets.

Following the development of electronic products and services and worldwide legal recognition of electronic signatures, an increasing number of Ministries adopt digital signature technology for signing online electronic documents.  The preferred choice seems very logical in light of the apparent ability to alter or copy electronic documents that can be used in unauthorized ways. The form of user-based PKI digital signature that utilises encryption technology to sign documents ensures that the signature is uniquely linked to the signatory and document, and that any changes can be immediately detected.

There are countless examples of the above:

  • Italy was one of the first countries in the European Union to use digital signatures to connect Government departments,
  • Germany, and Spain who use digital signatures in transactions between citizens and public administration,
  • India very recently (12 September) announced the deployment of digital signature technology in citizens services,
    US Federal Government agencies and the State of California to name a few. 

Carly Fiorina once said: “Many people see technology as the problem behind the so-called digital divide. Others see it as the solution. Technology is neither. It must operate in conjunction with business, economic, political, and social systems.”