Topic: Digital Signatures

What Is A Signature — Really?

Signing an agreement often means to write your name with ink on paper. At least in the Western world. A quick search on the Internet reveals that stamps have been used for similar purposes in many cultures since ancient times. Personal stamps are still in common use, for instance, in Korea and Japan. Thousands of years ago, an agreement could be made in two copies. One was permanently enclosed in a clay jar. The only way to access the sealed copy was to break the jar.

What is the purpose of these various customs? How do they compare to modern-day digital signatures?

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Decent Digital Signatures

Digital signatures, also known as e-signatures, have been with us for some time now. For instance, a European Union directive 1999 conferred legal status to electronic signatures. By 2003 it had been followed by national legislation in the member states.

There are many implementations of this new technology. A surprising number of them choose to deviate from what I would call decent practices for using digital signatures.

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