Validity of Digital Signatures

    Are Digital Signatures valid?

    A digital signature is a digital representation of the customers signature, more commonly in some form of jpeg, png file image or in pdf format. As seen in Public Prosecutor v Ng Kheng Wah and others [2019] SGDC 249, digital signatures do not enjoy the same privileges of the ETA ("Electronics Transaction Act", which places internet contractual dealings on a firmer footing) and are more susceptible to commercial fraud. A digital signature will only have the protection under section 18 of the ETA if it was made

    • unique to the person using it;
    • capable of identifying such person;
    • created in a manner or using a means under the sole control of the person using it; and
    • linked to the electronic record to which it relates in a manner such that if the record was changed the electronic signature would be invalidated.

    As such, a digital image alone would not qualify and would require further attachment to an email belonging and identifiable to the customer. Alternatively, a tool such as DocuSign would qualify for the protection because it requires an internet connection and a protocol that verifies the signer’s identity and email.

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