Digitalization in pandemic - what is eidas and how to apply in Romania

Time 27/02/2023 By myhoneybakedfeedback

This is just one of the so-called "new normal" things that are part of the life we've all led in the pandemic: whether it's new contracts, documents, annexes or any other type of paper on which normally we would have signed at the office or in front of other people, they found a new "home" in emails, where they waited patiently to be signed.

eIDAS - the digital identity card

Of course, this led to an exponential increase in the use of the digital signature - which was already on an upward trend, taking into account the digitization process that is applied, quickly or not, in all countries in Europe. Moreover, at the level of the European Union, work is being done to create a single digital market, and in 2014 a regulation was promulgated (no. 910/2014) that refers to electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions on the internal market, also known as eIDAS.

eIDAS applies uniformly to all EU member states, but has some elements that it leaves at their discretion, such as establishing the method of notification of electronic identification systems, establishing sanctions or the method of certifying signature creation devices and electronic seals by certification bodies in a specific country or the definition of the supervisory body for trust services.

The year 2020 came with the start of a review process of eIDAS, to include the adoption of an eID that has been talked about for some time - basically, a kind of digital identity card that would allow the safe use of online services from any EU member country.

Digitalization in the pandemic - what is eIDAS and how is it applied in Romania

The local legislative framework

6 years after the promulgation of the eIDAS regulation, an electronic signature law from 2001 is still in force in Romania, which will soon be repealed. For this, three legislative proposals have been made, but two of them come out of the area of ​​subjects indicated by eIDAS to be regulated at the national level. Two of the 3 proposed laws in Parliament that deal with the subject of electronic signatures propose that, for the first time in the European Union, Romania equates the advanced signature with the holographic signature.

The latter is, in fact, the hand signature and was the main subject of several articles last April, when the self-responsibility declaration was required to leave the house. Statement of reasons for the draft law PL-x no. 475/2019 also claims that the advanced signature has been equated by several EU states with the holographic signature - something that did not happen at the time of writing the article.

The difference between the holographic and the electronic signature

eIDAS does not give the same legal effect to the advanced electronic signature as to the qualified signature, because, in fact, for any advanced signature other than the qualified one, the technical way in which it is created must first be defined and presented and the fact that it must be demonstrated that that technical way actually fulfills the four necessary conditions specified by the EU regulation. For the qualified signature, it is also shown which are the mechanisms by which those requirements are met: the use of a qualified certificate and a device for creating qualified electronic signatures.

These qualified signatures can be easily validated, as there is a single list, centralized at the level of the Union member states. Any qualified signature can be verified against this list to prevent forgery and reduce the risk of online scams such as identity theft. The other types of signatures cannot be validated automatically, but each of them must be verified individually. This is quite complicated for a person without knowledge of public key cryptography, the technology behind electronic signatures.

This is why so far no EU state has equated the advanced signature with the holographic signature.

The year of the decision

A final decision on repealing the current law and adopting one of the three projects should be made this year. It remains to be seen whether the legislature will choose to follow the eIDAS regulation and join other European countries in the clear demarcation between holographic and electronic signatures or continue with this separation.

The year 2021 should be synonymous with the digitization of public institutions and not only, favorable for debates and analyzes that take into account the reality in the other EU member states. In the context where digitization has become a word that we repeat almost obsessively, regardless of the field we are in, the situation that could be created is a bizarre one. Practically, Romania could end up forming a small digital enclave, different from the European single market, with compromised digital environment security.