Wondering about your country's law regarding digital signatures?

Learn about the laws, legal scope, and aspects of electronic and digital signatures in the APAC region here.

Select your region:

China (CN)

Law:

The Electronic Law of the People's Republic of China passed in 2005 and amended in 2015 (E -signature law)

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

Electronic signature means the data in electronic form contained in and attached to a data message to be used for identifying the identity of the signatory and for showing that the signatory recognizes what is in the message.

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Electronic signature is legal and admissible as evidence in Court.

Requirements for Validity:

  • When the creation data of the electronic signature are used for electronic signature, it exclusively belongs to an electronic signatory
  • When the signature is entered, its creation data are controlled only by the electronic signatory
  • After the signature is entered, any alteration made to the electronic signature can be detected
  • After the signature is entered, any alteration made to the contents and form of a data message can be detected (Article 13 E-signature Law)

Applicability:

Employment contracts, commercial contracts, administrative documents, vouchers, receipts in civil activities and others not included in the restriction.

Key Restrictions:

  • Documents relating to such personal relations as marriage, adoption and succession
  • Documents relating to the transfer of the rights and interests residing in such real estate as land and houses
  • Documents relating to termination of such public utility services as water supply, heat supply, gas supply and power supply
  • Other circumstances where electronic documentation is not applicable, as provided for by laws and administrative regulations (Article 3 E signature Law)

Hong Kong (HK)

Law:

Hongkong Electronic Transaction Ordinance Act of 2000

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

Any letters, characters, numbers or other symbols in digital form attached to or logically associated with an electronic record, and executed or adopted for the purpose of authenticating or approving the electronic record:

Digital Signature Term Definition:

An electronic signature of the signer generated by the transformation of the electronic record using an asymmetric cryptosystem and a hash function such that a person having the initial untransformed electronic record and the signer’s public key can determine:

  • Whether the transformation was generated using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key
  • Whether the initial electronic record has been altered since the transformation was generated

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Electronic and digital signature are legal, admissible and equivalent to a signature of a person in a written document.

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

For Electronic Signature:
  • Both parties must have consented to the use of electronic signature
  • Uses a method to attach the electronic signature to or logically associate the electronic signature with an electronic record for the purpose of identifying himself and indicating his authentication or approval of the information contained in the document in the form of the electronic record
  • Having regard to all the relevant circumstances, the method used is reliable, and is appropriate, for the purpose for which the information contained in the document is communicated
For Digital Signature:
  • Supported by a recognized certificate
  • Generated within the validity of that certificate
  • Used in accordance with the terms of that certificate

Applicability:

Commercial documents, HR documents and other document not stated as restricted.

Key Restrictions:

  • requirement or permission for information to be or given in writing
    • — requirement or permission for a document to be served by personal service or by post
  • Requirement for the signature of a person
  • Requirement for information to be presented or retained in its original form
  • Requirement for information to be retained, E.g. powers of attorney, will and real estate transaction and Court Summons (Part 3, ETO 0f 2000)

Indonesia (ID)

Law:

Law No. 11 of 2008 as amended by Law No. 19 of 2016 on Electronic Information and Transactions (“EIT Law”)

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

It is a signature that contains Electronic Information that is attached to, associated or linked with other Electronic Information that is used for means of verification and authentication.

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Electronic signature is valid, legal and binding as handwritten signature

Requirements for Validity:

  • Electronic Signature creation data shall be associated only with the Signers
    • — Electronic Signature creation data at the time the electronic signing process shall be only in the power of the Signers
    • — Any alteration in Electronic Signatures that occur after the signing time is knowable
    • — Any alteration in Electronic Information associated with the Electronic Signatures after the signing time is knowable
    • — There are certain methods adopted to identify the identity of the Signers
    • — There are certain methods to demonstrate that the Signers have given consent to the associated Electronic Information
  • Created using the digital certificates provider that are registered with the Ministry of Communication and Information technology that has servers located in Indonesia.(Article 11 of Law No. 11 of 2008)

Applicability:

Commercial agreements between corporate entities, consumer and leases agreements other not restricted.

Key Restrictions:

  • Documents or certificates that under Laws must be made in writing form
  • Certificates together with their papers that under Laws must be made in notary deed or deed made by land conveyances (Article 5, par. 4 of Law No. 11 of 2008)

Malaysia (MY)

Law:

The Digital Signature Act of 1997 came into effect in Malaysia on 1st October 1998.

Digital Signature Term Definition:

Means a transformation of a message using an asymmetric cryptosystem such that a person having the initial message and the signer’s public key can accurately determine:

  • Whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key
  • Whether the message has been altered since the transformation was made

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Legal and admissible, but requires the use of digital signature

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

  • That digital signature is verified by reference to the public key listed in a valid certificate issued by a licensed certification authority
  • That digital signature was affixed by the signer with the intention of signing the message
  • The recipient has no knowledge or notice that the signer:
    • — Has breached a duty as a subscriber
    • — Does not rightfully hold the private key used to affix the digital signature (Article 62 par. 1 DSA of 1997)

Applicability:

Applies to all documents where the law requires a signature

Key Restrictions:

No restriction noted.

Philippines (PH)

Law:

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 and the Rules on electronic evidence

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

It refers to any distinctive mark, characteristic and/or sound in electronic form, representing the identity of a person and attached to or logically associated with the electronic data message or electronic document or any methodology or procedures employed or adopted by a person and executed or adopted by such person with the intention of authenticating or approving an electronic data message or electronic document.

Digital Signature Term Definition:

It refers to an electronic signature consisting of a transformation of an electronic document or an electronic data message using an asymmetric or public cryptosystem such that a person having the initial untransformed electronic document and the signer’s public key can accurately determine:

  • Whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key
  • Whether the initial electronic document had been altered after the transformation was made (Rule 2, Section 1 of Rules on Electronic Evidence)

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

An electronic signature on the electronic document shall be equivalent to the signature of a person on a written document (Sec. 8 R.A. 8792)

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

For Electronic Signature: If that signature is proved by showing that a prescribed procedure, not alterable by the parties interested in the electronic document, existed under which:
  • A method is used to identify the party sought to be bound and to indicate said party's access to the electronic document necessary for his consent or approval through the electronic signature
  • Said method is reliable and appropriate for the purpose for which the electronic document was generated or communicated, in the light of all circumstances, including any relevant agreement
  • It is necessary for the party sought to be bound, in or order to proceed further with the transaction, to have executed or provided the electronic signature
  • Has breached a duty as a subscriber
  • The other party is authorized and enabled to verify the electronic signature and to make the decision to proceed with the transaction authenticated by the same
For Digital Signature:
  • By evidence that a method or process was utilized to establish a digital signature and verity the same
  • By any other means provided by law
  • By any other means satisfactory to the judge as establishing the genuineness of the electronic signature

Applicability:

In general, all contracts, Agreements, HR documents. Securities and Exchange Commission documents such General Information Sheet. Annual Financial Statement and Statement of Management responsibility.

Key Restrictions:

All documents required to be notarized. Civil Registry (marriage, birth, adoption, custody, support etc.) and Land registration documents. E.g. Wills and testament, Affidavits, Power of Attorney.

Singapore (SG)

Law:

Electronic Transaction Act of 2010 Chapter 88 as revised in 2011.

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

Electronic signature that is treated as a secure electronic signature.

Digital Signature Term Definition:

It means an electronic signature consisting of a transformation of an electronic record using an asymmetric cryptosystem and a hash function such that a person having the initial untransformed electronic record and the signer’s public key can accurately determine:

  • Whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key
  • Whether the initial electronic record has been altered since the transformation was made

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Electronic signature and digital signature are valid and enforceable as handwritten signature

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

For Electronic Signature: At the time 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
  • 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
For Digital Signature:
  • The digital signature was created during the operational period of a valid certificate and is verified by reference to the public key listed in such certificate
  • The certificate is considered trustworthy, in that it is an accurate binding of a public key to a person’s identity because
    • — The certificate was issued by an accredited certification authority operating in compliance with the regulations
    • — The certificate was issued by a recognized certification authority
    • — The certificate was issued by a public agency approved by the Minister to act as a certification authority on such conditions as he may by regulations impose or specify
    • — The parties have expressly agreed between themselves (sender and recipient) to use digital signatures as a security procedure, and the digital signature was properly verified by reference to the sender’s public key ( Article 3, Part 1 of third schedule)

Applicability:

Commercial contracts, HR documents Employment contracts others not subject to restrictions.

Key Restrictions:

  • The creation or execution of a will
  • Negotiable instruments, documents of title, bills of exchange, promissory notes, consignment notes, bills of lading, warehouse receipts or any transferable document or instrument that entitles the bearer or beneficiary to claim the delivery of goods or the payment of a sum of money
  • The creation, performance or enforcement of an indenture, declaration of trust or power of attorney, with the exception of implied, constructive and resulting trusts
  • Any contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property, or any interest in such property
  • The conveyance of immovable property or the transfer of any interest in immovable property (First schedule ETA 2010)

South Korea (KR)

Law:

Framework Act on Electronic Trade (“FAET”) and the Electronic Signature Act (“ESA”) of July 1999, and Digital Signature Act (Act No. 14577)

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

An electronic record that is: Used to identify a signer and confirm the signer’s signature in a relevant electronic document. Attached or logically associated with the electronic document.

Digital Signature Term Definition:

It means a piece of information in digital form affixed on, or logically combined to, an electronic message in order to identify the signer and verify that the electronic message has been signed by that signer.

  • Whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key
  • Whether the initial electronic record has been altered since the transformation was made

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Electronic and digital signature has the same level of enforceability and admissibility as a “wet signature”

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

Uncertified electronic signatures are valid to the extent that it is agreed upon between the contracting parties. A valid certified electronic signature is one that is based on a public key certificate, and satisfies the following requirements:
  • The key for creating the electronic signature must be held and known only by the signatory
  • The signatory must control and manage the key at the time of signing
  • It must be possible to determine whether there has been any change to the electronic signature since it was provided
  • It must be possible to determine whether there has been any change to the electronic document since the electronic signature was provided.
For Digital Signature:
  • That the digital signature creating key shall be only held by and known only to the subscriber
  • That the subscriber shall be controlling and managing the digital signature creating key at the time of signing
  • That it shall be ascertained whether there has been any alteration in the digital signature concerned since it was affixed
  • That it shall be ascertained whether there has been any alteration in the electronic message concerned since digital signature was affixed (Digital Signature Act)

Applicability:

General business contracts, employment contracts, leasing agreements and other common types of contracts

Key Restrictions:

Articles on Incorporation, Wills and Testament, Document or Warranty and Guarantee, Document on Family Relations.

Thailand (TH)

Law:

Electronic Transaction Act 2001

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

It means letter, character, number, sound or any other symbol created in electronic form and affixed to a data message in order to establish the association between a person and a data message for the purpose of identifying the signatory who involves in such data message and showing that the signatory approves the information contained in such data message.

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Valid and enforceable evidence as handwritten signature.

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

  • The signature creation data are, within the context in which they are used, linked to the signatory and to no other person
  • The signature creation data were, at the time of signing, under the control of the signatory and of no other person
  • Any alteration to the electronic signature, made after the time of signing, is detectable
  • Where a purpose of the legal requirement for a signature is to provide assurance as to the completeness and integrity of the information and any alteration made to that information after the time of signing is detectable (Sec. 26, ETA 2001)

Applicability:

All documents

Key Restrictions:

No restrictions noted.

Vietnam (VN)

Law:

Law No. 51 or the Law on E-transactions 2005 as amended by Resolution 51/2001/QH10 of 25/12/2001

Electronic Signature Term Definition:

E-signature established in the form of words, letters, numbers, symbols, sound or other form by electronic means, logically attached with or associated with a data message, which has an ability to certify the person who signs the data message and to certify the approval of such person to the content of the signed data message.

Legality, Admissibility and Enforceability:

Valid and enforceable in Court as handwritten signature where both parties agreed

Requirements for validity and admissibility:

  • The method creating the e-signature permit [such method] to identify that person and to indicate that person's approval of the contents of the data message
  • Such method is sufficiently reliable and appropriate for the purpose for which the data message was generated and communicated (Article 24 Law 51)

Applicability:

Documents involving commercial transactions and other not included in the restrictions.

Key Restrictions:

Grants of certificates of land use rights, house ownership rights and other immovable properties, writings related to inheritance, marriage certification, divorce decision, birth declaration, death declaration, land and other immovable assets; bills of exchange and other valuable papers (Article 1 Law No. 51)

DISCLAIMER: The information mentioned above serve merely as a guide and general awareness NOT a legal advice. Specific legal questions must be addressed to and consulted with a licensed lawyer in the respective region.

Digital Signatures

A digital signature is an electronic signature and trusted digital ID combined into one, and are perfect for signing critical paperwork such as contracts and invoices, as they essentially shorten project timelines, save costs, and automate workflows while ensuring document integrity and legal compliance.

GlobalSign’s Digital Signing Service or DSS offers a highly scalable and cloud-based digital signatures that are available through a RESTful API. It is the first solution on the market to include all supporting cryptographic components including the full AATL trusted certificate chain, timestamping response, and OCSP checks, in one API call. They are integrated with existing document applications to create a seamless and more efficient workflow. Alternative deployment such as USB tokens or HSMs are also possible. For more information, head to https://www.globalsign.com/en-au/digital-signatures (use respective countries site for PH, AU, HK)

GMO Sign is a signing platform that replaces the traditional pen-and-paper process of signing and authenticating documents. These PKI-based signatures feature third party timestamping and easy management and storage of private keys, which significantly decreases the time and cost spent on managing, archiving, and shipping paper documents. For more information, head to https://www.globalsign.com/en-au/gmo-sign/how-it-works (use respective countries site for PH, AU, HK)

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