Changes to Chile´s Digital Signature Act


José Tomás Rodriguez from Harris Gomez Group brought up an interesting topic that is currently being discussed within the Chilean Congress regarding the modification of the Digital Signature Act that was passed in 2002.

¨There is a discussion in congress (boletín n#. 8466-07) that will modify law number 19.799, which regulates electronic documents and e-signature.  The idea is to expand the use of the “advanced e-signature” to boost electronic commerce as well as improve security in transactions made through electronic means. The changes will reduce the chances of forgery as well as cost and bureaucracy by authorising electronic signatures in private documents as well as formal documents, including promissory notes and bill of exchanges without the need of a notary certification, attesting the identity of the signer, date of signature and document modifications. ¨

What is a electronic signature?

A electronic signature is defined as any sound, symbol, or electronic process attached to an electronic document that allows its recipient to identify its author.

An advanced electronic signature means an electronic signature that has been certified by a authorized provider. It has been created making use of means that the legitimate user keeps under its exclusive control, so that it can be linked exclusively to such user and to the information it refers to. It also allows the detection of any further amendment, and serves to verify the identity of the legitimate user and prevents any rejection of the integrity or authorship of the document.

Why the change?

According to the official document delivered to the Economic Commission; a decade after the enactment of Law No. 19,799, the advanced electronic signature has not developed as expected, particularly when compared with the use of internet and mobile phone. While the penetration of fixed internet connections Chilean households grew from 18.7% in 2002 to 36% in 2010, and the number of mobile phone users increased from about six million in 2002 to nearly twenty million in 2010, the market for advanced electronic signature is reduced to only five accredited service providers of electronic signature certification and about fifteen thousand users.

The limited development of advanced electronic signature marketresponds, in part, to a number of shortcomings and imperfections, which includes the current text of Law No. 19.799 and other regulatory bodies.

By modifying the original law the hope is to expand the use of electronic signatures in order to reduce costs, bureaucracy and the chances of forgery for companies who are doing business in Chile.

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