Argentinean Digital Signature Act Published
On December 14, 2001, Law N 25,506 (the "Digital Signature Act" or the "Act") was published in the Official Gazette.
The Act will become effective after eight days following its publication and must be regulated by the Executive Power within 180 days of its date of publication. The Head of the Cabinet of Ministers is the enforcement authority of the Act. Until now, the handwritten signature of the parties was required for a private document to be valid. However, such a requirement did not mean that an unsigned document lacked validity if, together with other means of proof, it was possible to demonstrate what the content of such a document was. The Digital Signature Act tends to give digital signatures similar effects to those of handwritten signatures, subject to the terms of the Act.
A digital signature should be capable of verification by third parties, so as to identify the signatory of the document and to detect any alteration made to the digital document after its execution. The Act delegates the determination of the procedures to be used to that purpose on the enforcement authority, such procedures to follow international technological standards.
Also, the Act presumes, unless otherwise proven, that a digital signature belongs to the holder of the digital certificate that allows verification of such a digital signature and that such a digital document has suffered no modifications since its execution. A digital document with an appended digital signature sent by automated means using a programmed device is presumed originated by the sender, unless otherwise proven.
Both electronic documents signed digitally and digitally signed digital copies of originals of a different nature shall also be deemed original documents and be valid proof of the contents therein, subject to implementing regulation. When the law requires that documents, registries or data must be kept, such an obligation will also be satisfied by keeping digitally signed digital documents - in accordance with pending regulation - as long as such files can be reached for future consultation and that the origin, destination, date and time of their creation, delivery and/or receipt can be duly determined.
In order for a digital signature to be valid, the Act requires:
Digital signatures may not be used to express
In addition to digital signatures, the Act defines an "electronic signature" as a set of data in electronic form that is integrated, linked or associated logically to other electronic data used by a signatory as his/her means of identification, but does not fulfill the legal requirements to be deemed a digital signature (i.e. absence of a digital certificate or of when the backing digital certificate has expired). Should an electronic signature be challenged, proof of its authenticity falls to the party alleging it to be valid.
Although the use of digital signatures has already been admitted in certain Government areas, the Act provides for the use of the technologies and provisions of the Digital Signature Act by the National Government for internal purposes and also when dealing with procedures involving private parties, subject to the implementing regulation.
Alejandro Anderlic/Carlos Oteiza, Estudio O'Farrell, Buenos Aires.
MMR 2002, Heft 4, V