Headlines: April 26th, 1999

The EU Telecoms Council has agreed a Directive that opens the way for electronic signatures. DTI Minister, Michael Wills said the Directive is consistent with the Electronic Commerce Bill which is due for publication shortly.

Electronic signatures are a key element of information age government. They are the means of identification and authentication when conducting business with public bodies. People need to be confident about the identity of the person sending an electronic message. The technology is available, but users need to be able to trust it and companies supplying it. The forthcoming Bill will seek to build that trust and to ensure legal equivalence between electronic and paper and pen signatures.

Work is currently in progress with financial institutions and IT companies to ensure that their electronic signature products can be used for transactions with public bodies.