Cabinet passes draft amendments on legality of electronic signatures

Taipei, Feb. 29 (CNA) The Cabinet on Thursday passed a slew of draft amendments to the Electronic Signature Act, specifying the legality of electronic signatures and introducing provisions to pave the way for their international interoperability.

The draft amendments to the Electronic Signature Act, a law that has been in effect since 2002 but has not undergone any amendments to date, were proposed by the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) and will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review, according to the Cabinet.

Specifying that electronic signatures and signatures on paper have equal functionality and legality, the draft bill introduces a key provision stating that “electronic documents and electronic signatures shall not be denied solely because of their electronic form,” according to a document submitted to the Cabinet by MODA.

To facilitate future mutual recognition of electronic signatures between Taiwan and the international community, Taiwan’s authorities will also, after the passage of the draft amendments, be able to acknowledge the legality of electronic signatures issued by overseas and domestic institutions that comply with international standards, set by organizations like the European Union (EU) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), according to MODA’s press release.

“In terms of international application, in the future, as long as the certification technologies of both parties are interoperable and security conditions are equivalent, Taiwan’s courts can recognize the legality of the electronic documents,” MODA said, including examples such as Acrobat Sign and DocuSign.

Deputy Minister of Digital Affairs Lee Huai-jen (李懷仁) told the press after the Cabinet meeting on Thursday morning that one of the key points of the amendments is to work towards the future integration of certification technologies with other countries.

He stated that once certification authorities in foreign countries receive Taiwan’s approval, Taiwanese and foreign entities can use electronic signatures on their official documents.

Lee also pointed out that digital signatures are more secure than general electronic signatures in terms of effectiveness, strength, and security standards because digital signatures utilize encrypted private keys and are issued by government-approved certification authorities.

Digital signatures use algorithms or other methods to process an electronic document into digital data and encrypt the signatory’s private key to create an electronic signature, the draft amendments stated.

Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang (唐鳳) said during a MODA press conference Thursday afternoon that she had received support from different political parties regarding the draft amendments and hoped to pass them in this legislative session.

“In terms of the general public, in any situation requiring a signature or seal, after the passage of the new [draft amendments to the] Electronic Signature Act, individuals will be able to use electronic signatures as long as the other party does not object,” Tang said.

She also mentioned that after the draft amendment’s approval, MODA will encourage procedures being put in place to ensure digital signatures are verified before accounts associated with them are able to publish investment advertisements on Meta, Google and Line — the three major online advertising platforms in Taiwan — to reduce investment fraud and fake advertising.

(By Sunny Lai)

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By yowuj