Digital Signature Legislation

EFPE Conference 2021: Review

The European Forum on Electronic Signature and Trust Services (EFPE) is the largest international conference in Europe. It is dedicated to electronic trust services, including electronic signature, PKI, electronic identification, and digital security. For two decades, EFPE has been bringing together experts and professionals in the field of law, technology, and the application of electronic trust services.

The conference included discussions between experts in the field of law, business, and new technologies. The discussions focused on:
  • the undeniable impact of digitization processes
  • on both maintaining business continuity
  • on economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic
  • on global economic development in the coming years.

Trust and identity services were evaluated through the prism of practical application. The most attractive examples of digital transformation in organizations operating in the European market were also presented. 

Developing the Ecosystem of Digital Future with eIDAS2.0

This year, discussions during the 21st European Forum of Electronic Signatures and Trust Services dominated the recently published proposal by the European Commission to revise the regulation of eIDAS. It presents several new solutions, such as the European Digital Identity Portfolio, which offers the creation of eID for individuals and legal entities and expands opportunities for international cooperation.
How did the experts evaluate the proposals for amendments to the Regulations on Electronic Identification and Trust Services? 
- From the point of view of digital identity, it is good that these changes are taking place because they allow state bodies, businesses, and citizens to use modern solutions more widely. There are many new trusted services. We are also moving towards standardization. There are a lot of digital processes going on now, " EFPE Director Tomas Litarovich said at the conference.

In turn, Andrey Doperala, president of Asseco Data System, recalled that the pandemic is a time when the world is becoming more digital. - We are living in a period of huge, unprecedented changes associated with technological innovations that affect both our personal and professional lives and change the behavior and ways of human interaction. The pandemic has caused an urgent need for universal digitization in society. The past year has been a period of intensive development of technological solutions that allow you to interact and trade without direct contact with a person. Remote identification of the participants in the process and remote confirmation of their decisions were key to increasing the use of electronic documents, which was the only way to avoid or minimize interpersonal interaction, " said Andrey Doperala.

Electronic identification and trust services are the tools that make digital transformation possible. During the first debate within the framework of the EFPE, experts agreed that there are many problems ahead for the EU and individual member countries. The fact that the EC takes, in the form of an eIDAS resolution, a significant part of them does not mean that the topic is exhausted. "The rules and their changes should be focused not only on national but also on European dimensions to fully harmonize the legal framework and reveal the full potential of digital services," said Tomasz Chomiatski, Business Development Director at Samsung Electronics Poland.  - We should look at it more broadly because these are elements of a global economy based on trust.

- We must remember that digital transformation will require a digital identity. He acknowledged that the rules focused on electronic identification are very important.

New products that appear on the market allow us to accelerate the digital transformation of business and public administration. At the same time, they also raise questions about security, regional and global compatibility, the attractiveness of their use, and popularization on the side of business and citizens.

To address digital identity as widely as possible, the EFPE is divided into three thematic blocks. The first one concerned market changes in Poland and Europe. The second was devoted to the introduction of trust services in individual organizations. Third, the future of the digital economy is an attempt to find answers to questions about the changes in eIDAS proposed by the EC about whether they are going in the right direction, at least in the context of international cooperation and building a global digital economy.

- The EU has defined a model for regulating electronic signatures, which has been adopted as a standard in many countries. The revision, which focuses on the EU market, will affect other countries, not only Switzerland or Norway but also those outside of Europe, " said Andrea Valle, president of the Cloud Signatures consortium. From the provisions of the amendments, eIDAS pointed to Article 14, which implies mutual legal recognition of trust services established in third countries. - Until now, this issue has been neglected, which did not allow us to cooperate, for example, with the dynamically developing Indian market, - said Valle.

He also stressed that in the field of identification and identity verification, the amended Article 24 would be extremely important. - It harmonizes the principles of remote identification on the EU trend. Until now, its absence has been the main obstacle to the development of joint trust services by the EU, he added.

Tomasz Khomiatski noted that cybersecurity is essential if we think about the further development of electronic identification services.  "This is the point when we should stop for a moment and reflect on the new rules, like eIDAS 2.0, and emphasize that new services should be deployed in such a way that is more and more secure. Today we see the growing importance of AI, cloud computing, e-commerce, but it is also worth noting that hackers are also participating in this race, " he said.

In turn, Andrey Doperov from Asseco Data Systems admitted that eIDAS 2.0 is the next stage for digital transformation. - Updating eIDAS will lead to the fact that the systems will interact with each other. It is not only an electronic signature but also a certificate confirming that I am an expert. I have a higher education diploma - if it matters for a particular situation-it will become part of my digital identity. The possibilities are immeasurable. Maybe we still don't see them today, " he said. He also stressed that " companies such as Asseco Data Systems and most certification authorities are prepared for the new rules and recommendations that follow from the eIDAS update." "I am convinced that these changes will happen quickly, and I see opportunities for such entities as ours," he added.

In the context of the further development of digital services and the subsequent stages of transformation, the EU will allocate significant funds within the framework of a multi-year financial structure and the Reconstruction Fund. It was stated at the EFPE by Michal Kanowiec, President of the Union of Digital Technologies of Poland. - The EC has prepared a program for the next generation of the EU- a financial plan for 750 billion euros. Each country had to prepare its recovery plan, and 20 percent. Funds should be allocated for digital transformation. In addition, from 2021, more than 130 billion euros will be allocated for digitization in the common market within the framework of the EU budget, he recalled. As he noted, Europe should prepare and invest in digitalization to be a real partner in economic relations.

This is the first part of the article. The original article in Polish can be found here.  If you find our posts compelling, you can subscribe here; we will be delighted to get feedback.