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IT Act amendment allows third-party verification for e-signatures

The validation process of e-signatures has been tweaked to let private players in.

We missed this earlier: Third-party entities have been allowed to conduct identity verification of Digital Signature Certificate applicants, according to an amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. The amendment was brought by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in September 2020 but tabled in the Lok Sabha during the winter session in December 2021, MediaNama learned through an RTI response from the Lok Sabha secretariat. What are electronic signatures? They are essentially cryptographic keys that can help authenticate a document virtually. "In physical signature, you often know the party and the parties sign the document in the presence of each other and witnesses. So each party feels safe as far as the transaction is concerned. Of course, this could also be contested in courts, where you then have to prove the documents by adducing evidence. In the case of electronic documents, you don't meet the person physically. Electronic signatures then help you, as a trusted third party, a certifying authority verifies the signature. If the document is signed, you know that the document is not tampered and that the signature is verified." —  Prasanth Sugathan, legal director at Software Freedom Law Centre Earlier, conducting verification of applicants was only within the ambit of the government or a government-licensed 'Certifying Authority' which carried out Aadhaar-based e-KYC to verify the identity of those applying for e-signatures, also called Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), as per Section 1 of the Second Schedule of the IT Act. The newly-introduced Section 2 gives…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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