E-signature or electronic signature is an electronic data point that is logically associated with other electronic data and used by the signatory to sign or authorize a document. It can be a symbol, letters, or even a certain process. E-signature holds the same legal standing as a handwritten signature. However, it has to adhere to the specific requirements of the relevant Indian government regulations.
As a legal concept, an e-signature is entirely different from a digital signature. Digital signatures are a cryptographic mechanism used for implementing e-signatures. An electronic signature can be as simple as entering a name in the electronic document. On the other hand, digital signatures are widely used in e-commerce and regulatory filings to print e-signatures in a protected way.
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E-sign lays the foundation for Aadhaar E-signature and it is important to understand it first. E-sign is an online electronic signature service that facilitates Aadhaar holders to digitally sign a document in the country. This service is expedited by Aadhaar E-KYC service which allows people to authorise service providers to access their Aadhaar information.
To avail the E-sign facility, an individual must have his/her mobile number registered with Aadhaar. With this basic requirement fulfilled, anyone can E-sign a document remotely. The purpose of this service is to promote online usage and enable people to sign the documents in a secure way that is also accepted legally.
Aadhaar E-Signature Service Providers:
The Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) has qualified a few authorities to facilitate the service. The list includes C-DAC, eMudhra Ltd., and (n) Code Solutions. Digio and Nexus Group as the premium solution providers.
Benefits of Aadhaar E-Signature:
Aadhaar E-Signature service comes with a number of benefits that are mentioned ahead.
- Privacy: It is the responsibility of both service providers and solution providers that the full privacy of the signatory is maintained. To ensure this, the complete Aadhaar information is not involved in the process. Only the required information is accessible to the service providers.
- No Physical Presence Required: Aadhaar E-Signature is an online service since the individuals are not required to be physically present at the time of verification. It can be done remotely which saves time and eliminates the possibility of delays and errors. The service has also eliminated the use of hardware tokens that were used widely.
- Flexible: The verification can be done in a number of ways depending on the availability of the devices at the service provider. The basic way is to go through biometric verification where iris scanning and fingerprints verification is done. The other way is to do it with One-Time Password (OTP). The person receives an OTP on his/her registered mobile number and confirms the verification. This makes the whole process easy and highly flexible.
- Safety: All the service providers are qualified and certified for this process by CCA. The authorities are licensed under the IT act. The private keys of the user are created on Hardware Security Module (HSM) and destroyed immediately after one-time use. This enhances the security and prevents any misuse of the sensitive information of the user.