Electronic signatures are now as as legally binding as handwritten ones, as a European Commission directive, three years in the pipeline, comes into force.
The legislation is a move to open up the ecommerce environment in Europe and increase confidence in doing business online.
Digital signatures can be used for signing contracts in electronic format, thus speeding up transactions all over the world.
About 12 of the 15 European member states, including the UK, are thought to have passed legislation supporting the EU Directive for digital signatures.
Erkki Liikanen, EU commissioner responsible for the Information Society, said: "Doing business electronically is increasing rapidly both for companies and for consumers. But without security and trust, there won't be a notable shift towards commercial and financial transactions on the internet."
Security experts have long testified that digital certificates will help drive down cases of fraud, as digital signatures are more difficult to forge than a handwritten one.
To issue a certificate deemed "qualified" by the Directive, Certificate Authorities (CA) must follow certain procedures to establish security during certificate issuance and liability of the CA should the certificate be compromised.
VeriSign is one of the companies with partners and CAs in all the European countries, and will be providing certification services in the UK.
Roger Cochetti, senior vice president and chief policy officer for VeriSign, said: "Giving digital signatures the same status as physical ones will introduce a higher level of fluidity for secure ecommerce in Europe."
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