An electronic (digital) signature is essentially the equivalent of a hand-written signature, with data in electronic form being attached to other electronic subject data (e.g. Invoice, Payment slip, Contract) as a means of authentication.
An electronic seal ensures origin and integrity of data.
Both electronic (digital) signatures and electronic seals can be supported technically by digital signatures which are data appended to, or a cryptographic transformation of a data unit that allows a recipient of the data unit to prove its source and integrity.)
With the Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market, electronic signatures and electronic seals have legal effect.
Our Role & Activities
ETSI activity on digital signatures is coordinated by technical committee Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures (ESI).
ETSI ESI is the committee dealing with digital signatures (signature format, certificates), trust service providers and ancillary trust services (Remote signature creation and validation, Registered email, Registered e-delivery, Timestamping, Long-term data preservation).
Their activity covers signature creation and verification based on CAdES (CMS digital signatures), XAdES (XML digital Signatures), PAdES (PDF digital Signatures), and ASiC (Associated Signature Container). A further standard for JAdES (JSON Web Signatures) is under development. ETSI ESI also defines technical profiles and policy requirements for trust service providers for a range of services including services supporting signature (e.g. certification authorities, Timestamping authorities), remote signature creation or validation functions, registered e-delivery, Registered Emails (REM), and information preservation. ESI also recommends cryptographic suites for digital signatures.
ETSI standards assure the confidence of parties relying on certificates or other services related to digital signatures with conformance assessment requirements for auditing schemes and a trust service status list (called Trusted List under the EU regulatory framework) to indicate the results of the audit and related supervision of the trust service provider. This provides information that will allow relying parties to know whether a given Trust Service Provider was operating under the approval through a recognized audit and supervisory scheme.
In order to prove interoperability of implementations and enhance standards robustness, ETSI is running regular CAdES/XAdES/PAdES PlugtestsTM events. ETSI also organizes Plugtests events on signature validation.
Latest ESI activities on the ETSI Member Portal.
A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ESI committee page.