Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) headquarters
CAIRO - 11 June 2020: As part of its efforts to keep pace with the technological developments and to accelerate digital transformation in Egypt, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has amended the executive regulations of the E-Signature Law, adding e-seal and time stamp services.
This comes in line with the suggested amendments proposed by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), which have been approved and came into action in fulfillment of the decree issued by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat. The decree aimed at amending the executive regulations of the Law No. 15, issued in 2004, to regulate e-signature and establishing ITIDA by its virtue.
Talaat stressed the role and importance of e-signature in governmental, commercial, and administrative transactions, highlighting that the E-Signature Law is the first Egyptian legislation for regulating e-transactions. The law legalizes editing, exchanging, and saving documents/forms, electronically, thus helping protect users’ rights and ensuring e-transactions’ authenticity and legality. Before the law was issued in 2004, e-writing and e-signature weren’t admitted into evidence before the Egyptian courts.
The ICT Minister stated that the amendments reflect the commitment to promote and spread the use of e-signature among individuals and businesses, thus keeping up with the technological developments in this field. The amendments help drive digital transformation, raise the efficiency of administrative work, improve the quality of government services, and boost the business of the e-signature service providers in the coming period, he added.
Talaat stated that e-signature allows citizens and juridical persons to handle different governmental transactions, remotely, thus reducing the load borne by governmental authorities to provide and equip proper facilities for receiving citizens. Accordingly, separating the service request from the service provider will be a reality.
The official gazette published the text of the minister’s decree along with the amended executive regulations. The amendments aim to keep up with the technological developments in the public-key infrastructure. They included several new definitions and terms used in this field as well as additional e-services, all meet international standards in this perspective.
These services include the electronic seal that is uniquely linked to the signatory and capable of identifying the signer, thus allowing widespread use of e-signature applications in different entities and institutions.
Amendments also included adding the timestamp service that links date and time with the electronic document/file, in a way that prevents changing the data without being detected, with referring to an accurate time source accredited by the Root Certificate Authority (Root CA) and created by it or by one of the organizations licensed by ITIDA, according to the agreed technical regulations.
A new article has also been added stipulating that ITIDA will issue a guide for accrediting the e-signature products, services, and applications in Egypt, as well as amending the technical supplement, in accordance to the upgrade done in the Root Certificate Authority, and to comply with the e-signature’s latest developments.
Moreover, the term “smart card” in the executive regulations has been changed to the “e-signature creation device,” and defined as the secured electronic-medium used in creating and binding the digital signature on the electronic document or electronic files, thus allowing the use of various types of cryptochips. This will help spread the use of e-signature applications using the latest technologies, according to the agreed technical standards included in the executive regulations.
Another amendment was presented to Article (3) in the executive regulations stated that the key length used by the certifications service provider must be greater than or equal 4,096 bits.
A copy of the Root CA two certificate fingerprints have been published online linked here: https://www.itida.gov.eg/English/Uploads/RootCA_Fingerprint.pdf.
The e-signature in Egypt helps create a digital identity for each citizen, allowing them to update and revise their personal data, and use e-signature in governmental transactions safely, without the need to submit paper documents. Citizens shall also be able to use e-signature embedded on the Citizen Smart Card, by which they will receive supply services, medical insurance, and e-payment services, as a first phase.
The e-signature system will also be applied in government and private services outlets, allowing businesses and individuals receive a range of services, including documentation, supply, traffic, and investment services, scheduled to be launched in July.
E-signature, also, shall be used in the Ministry of Finance’s e-invoice system, as well as in the digital governmental transactions that require linking with the National ID and the Commercial Register. The linking services were launched in May, in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior.