The new technical rules on electronic signatures have recently been published in the Official Journal.
Here follow the complete references: DPCM 22 febbraio 2013 “Regole tecniche in materia di generazione, apposizione e verifica delle firme elettroniche avanzate, qualificate e digitali, ai sensi degli articoli 20, comma 3, 24, comma 4, 28, comma 3, 32, comma 3, lettera b), 35, comma 2, 36, comma 2, e 71”.
The new rules give full legal value to a new type of electronic signature known as the “Graphometric Signature”, which consists of a handwritten signature being added to a digital document by means of a tablet using a special pen. According to the Italian Digital Administration Code currently in force, this signature can be regarded as either an electronic signature or as an advanced electronic signature. Whether it is an electronic signature or an advanced electronic signature depends on the security measures adopted.
“Graphometric Signatures” are used particularly by banks, but could be used in any field. The only limitation concerns contracts regarding real estate, which cannot be signed with a “Graphometric Signature”, but require a digital signature.
The so-called “advanced electronic signature” plays a leading role on the Italian market today.
It has recently been reintroduced into Italian legislation, with the latest version of the so-called “Digital Administration Code”, (Codice dell’amministrazione digitale -CAD), D. lgs. 7.3. 2005, n. 82 as modified by D. Lgs. 30.12.2010, n. 235.
Despite its name, the Code applies to both private and public bodies.
With regard to electronic signatures, the Code provides for a new kind of signature defined as the advanced electronic signature, which will be the fourth kind after the qualified, digital and electronic signatures. The definition of the advanced electronic signature is the same as Directive 1999/93/EC.
According to EU directive 93/1999 on electronic signatures the advanced electronic signature is defined as “an electronic signature which meets the following requirements:
[a] it is uniquely linked to the signatory;
[b] it is capable of identifying the signatory;
[c] it is created using means that the signatory can maintain under his sole control; and
[d] it is linked to the data to which it relates that any subsequent change of the data is detectable”.
According to Italian legislation, the advanced electronic signature, the qualified signature and the digital signature all satisfy legal requirements to the same degree, except for a few cases (concerning contracts regarding real estate). All of these signatures may have the same legal value as a hand-written signature.
The most interesting use of the advanced electronic signature in Italy is the handwritten signature on tablets, which is currently in use in many Italian banks.
The new version of the so-called Digital Administration Code (CAD) is the latest set of laws resulting from a lengthy legislative process started in 1997 that has produced several different statutes over the years. As is well known, Italy was the first European country to provide itself in 1997 with legislation regarding the digital signature, while the European Directive concerning the electronic signature dates from 1999.
Despite its name, the Code applies to both private and public bodies. Its principle new points are the following.
As stated in article no. 5-bis of the new CAD, communications between public and private bodies should be transmitted exclusively through digital devices. This is a long-awaited norm which goes in the direction of digitalization in public administration.
Complicated new distinctions have been introduced between copies and duplicates from digital to paper versions and viceversa.
With regard to electronic signatures, the new Code provides for a new kind of signature defined as the advanced electronic signature, which will be the fourth kind after the qualified, digital and electronic signatures. The definition of the advanced electronic signature is the same as Directive 1999/93/EC. The advanced electronic signature, the qualified signature and the digital signature all satisfy legal requirements to the same degree. All of these signatures may have the same legal value as a hand-written signature.
The possibility of certifying the storage process has also been introduced.
The new version of the Code came into force on 25th of January 2011. However, one can easily imagine that this will not be the definitive version of the Code in that it contains a number of errors which will require correction. Moreover, a technical regulation will need to be provided.