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An advanced electronic signature (AdES) is an electronic signature that has met the requirements set forth under EU Regulation No 910/2014 (eIDAS-regulation) on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market.
eIDAS created standards for the use of electronic signatures so that they could be used in a secure manner when conducting business online, such as an electronic fund transfer or official business across borders with EU Member States. The advanced electronic signature is one of the standards outlined in eIDAS.
Advanced electronic signatures that are compliant with eIDAS may be technically implemented through the Ades Baseline Profiles that have been developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI):
The implementation of advanced electronic signatures under the specification of eIDAS serves several purposes. Business and public services processes, even those that go across borders can be safely expedited by using electronic signing. With eIDAS, EU States are required to establish “points of single contact” (PSCs) for trust services that ensure the electronic ID schemes can be used in public sector transactions that occur cross-borders, including access to healthcare information across borders.
In the past, when signing a document or message, the signatory would sign it and then return it to its intended recipient through the postal service, via facsimile service, or by scanning and attaching it to an email. This could lead to delays and of course, the possibility that signatures could be forged and documents altered, especially when multiple signatures from different people located in different locations are required. The process of using an advanced electronic signature saves time, is legally binding and assures a high level of technical security.
Following Article 25 (1) of the eIDAS regulation, an advanced electronic signature shall "not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings". However it will reach a higher probative value when enhanced to the level of a qualified electronic signature. By adding a certificate that has been issued by a qualified trust service provider that attests to the authenticity of the qualified signature, the upgraded advanced signature then carries according to Article 24 (2) of the eIDAS Regulation the same legal value as a handwritten signature. However, this is only regulated in the European Union and similarly through ZertES in Switzerland. A qualified electronic signature is not defined in the United States.