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Long-term authenticity of electronic signatures with ISO standard

by Roger Frost on
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A new ISO standard will help business and governments guarantee the long-term authenticity of electronic signatures, increasingly used in e-commerce and e-government.

Following the requirements of ISO 14533 will also ensure the interoperability of electronic signatures when the documents they authenticate are transferred and processed through different information technology systems. The new standard is in two parts:

  • ISO 14533-1:2012, Processes, data elements and documents in commerce, industry and administration – Long term signature profiles – Part 1: Long term signature profiles for CMS Advanced Electronic Signatures (CAdES)
  • ISO 14533-2:2012, Processes, data elements and documents in commerce, industry and administration – Long term signature profiles – Part 2: Long term signature profiles for XML Advanced Electronic Signatures (XAdES)

Electronic signatures facilitate the use of electronic contracts and records in commerce and government by ensuring their validity. Up to now, the problem has been that the legal or statutory preservation period required of electronically signed documents may be longer than the practical digital life of the document. ISO 14533 will help solve this problem by providing a framework for the development of systems and/or services which can guarantee the authenticity of electronic documents for a longer period of time than is currently supported by available technology.

Users who will benefit from the standards include organizations and governments who wish to preserve, or are mandated to preserve, electronic documents for a long period of time. These include organizations who wish to store electronic messages (such as EDI and XML based), agreements, contracts, or other documents for a period longer than possible up to now.

Klaus-Dieter Naujok, Chair of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 154 who developed the standard, comments: "ISO 14533-1:2012 and ISO 14533-2:2012 provide a new framework complying with the European Commission Mandate M/460, as well as helping the work by UN/CEFACT on its current revision on Recommendation 14 (Authentication of Trade Documents by Means Other than Signature), for guaranteeing interoperability and consumption of messages regardless of the target platform. The new standards provide for long term protection of these document formats that is not currently available."

ISO 14533-1:2012 and ISO 14533-2:2012 were developed by ISO/TC 154, Processes, data elements and documents in commerce, industry and administration. They are available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). They may also be obtained directly from ISO Central Secretariat, 86 Swiss francs each, through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department.