In June this year Poland hosted the 10th anniversary meeting of the European Forum on Electronic Signature, which summarized the activities of the European countries in this field for 10 years of existence. It was attended by 16 countries, including some CIS countries. The main discussion covered the issues of interoperability of systems for exchange of documents using digital signatures, both inside the countries and within the EU, CIS, and at a wider international level. The most urgent question was the compliance of legislation in different countries on the use of digital signatures and supporting the activities of authorities, which issue certificates of possession of a digital signature, with the EU directives. Another urgent issue was changes in the law: legislative acts relating to digital signature must be adopted taking into account their possible impact on other legislation and regulations. Participants concluded that the current legislative proposals and ongoing projects are aimed mainly at addressing the problems of state governance, while the interests and expectations of the business community and individual users in terms of accessibility, scope and quality of electronic services are insufficiently taken into account. Perhaps the main recommendation of the meeting was the need to synchronize the legislative and technological bases of European countries (including CIS) for the joint operation of the digital signature and electronic documents. EchoSign, one of the international leaders in providing electronic services, particularly digital signatures, in its online survey also confirms that the use of digital signatures is still fragmented. Countries, where the digital signature is applied, in practice it has not been equated to physical much: the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Benelux countries, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. In most European countries - Germany, Italy, France, Spain and others, as well as Turkey and Singapore - the digital signature is legally enforceable, but not necessary as a signature on paper. The third group includes Russia, China, India, Brazil, Malaysia, Argentina. In these countries, the relevant legislation has been adopted, but in practice the digital signatures are not used. The process of implementing electronic signature came to Azerbaijan as well. According to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, it has already completed testing the equipment for the issuance of key electronic digital signatures, and they are expected to be issued by the end of the year. Presently, work is underway to develop procedures for the issuance. The project is implemented under Azerbaijan's Law on electronic signature and electronic document" by a consortium of companies Ultra, Azerin and local representation of Microsoft. According to the project, there are plans to use three centers for issuing digital signatures in Azerbaijan, two of which will provide service to public and private entities, and one will be the head office.
The advantages of electronic signatures are well known, but nevertheless, we note once again the main:
- frees large time (printing, scanning, sending faxes, sending mail, etc.);
- reduces operating costs, especially for small and medium business (paper, ink, toner, courier and postage costs, etc.);
- dramatically reduces the waiting period, as the recipient receives a signed document almost instantaneously, and it allows to quickly sign this contract or transaction, improve product sales, coordinate future activities;
- increases the level of security and protection against tampering and fraud.
- significantly increases the efficiency of document management, especially at large enterprises, ministries, i.e., where its intensity is very high, and thus accelerates the solution of the tasks.
Several facts and figures to the picture: International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) conducted a survey (end of 2008) on the use of electronic signature technology. Conducted among members of the Association the survey showed that only 21 percent of respondents uses this method, while 79 percent uses paper and ink. Americans use digital signature much more than Europeans and Asians. As seen below, the company confirms the digital signature practically for all types of documents:
The survey also showed that the electronic signature is used in almost all sectors of the economy: oil and gas industry, construction, banking, insurance, governance, telecommunications, retail sales, and many others.
Perhaps the pioneer of digital signatures in Azerbaijan will be the government (Ministry of Economic Development already uses digital signature technology in the internal document circulation), as well as large public structures such as SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan). But this relatively new technology increases the opportunities firstly in the private sector in Azerbaijan, expanding the geography of business and allowing to reach a higher level of relations with foreign partners.