Visual Representation of Advanced Electronic Signatures

  • Nick Pope


This paper considers the issues concerning the visual representation of cryptographic based digital signatures (referred to as advanced electronic signatures in the European legal context). Two particular aspects are considered: firstly the visual appearance of the signature as part of the document as applied by the signatory at time of signing, secondly the representation of the digital signature when verified by the recipient. The paper proposes principles for these two aspects of visual representation to ensure that the normal user of electronic documents, who has little or no knowledge of digital signature technology, can best understand the signature whilst enabling forensic experts to investigate the details of the signature in case of dispute over a signed document. The paper also touches on a further aspect of signature representation, which is still the subject to ongoing debate. This paper is based on work carried out in ETSI on standards for visual representation of advanced electronic signatures in PDF with input from European projects using signed documents (see acknowledgements at end of paper).


Digital Signature Visual Representation Visual Appearance Electronic Signature Signature Verification 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. EU DIRECTIVE 1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signaturesGoogle Scholar
  2. Herbert Leitold, Reinhard Posch and Thomas Rössler: “Media-break resistant eSignatures in eGovernment – an Austrian experience” In: IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology 2009Google Scholar
  3. ETSI TS 102 778–6 PDF Advanced Electronic Signatures - Visual Representations of Electronic Signatures (draft to be published)Google Scholar
  4. Stefan Santesson, Russ Housley, Siddharth Bajaj, Leonard Rosenthol “Internet X.509 Public Key Infrastructure - Certificate Image” IETF Internet Draft (to be published as IETF Proposed Standard RFC xxxx)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Vieweg+Teubner Verlag | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nick Pope
    • 1
  1. 1.Thales Information Systems SecurityUnited Kingdom

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