Ensuring the Authenticity of Records: From Seals to Digital Signatures

  • Shadrack Katuu Rapid Transit, Canada
Keywords: Authenticity of Records, Electronic Age, Digital Signatures, Seals


The promise of the globalization of trade and particularly electronic commerce to deliver goods and services much faster to clients is talked about in almost all circles of life. Governments are moving towards electronic governance, in an effort to cut down the cost of bureaucratic process and reduce the time spent on paper work. Companies can reach more clients, serve them faster, and make services available 24 hours a day.

Although there are obvious advantages brought about the rapid features of modern information and communication technologies, there are also some overwhelming challenges. A bedrock concern is whether electronic information is trustworthy. This raises several questions, such as: can the provenance of electronic messages be accurately determined, what infrastructure is necessary for secure transmission of electronic information, and how to guarantee that the contents of a message have not been altered during transmission?

There is a striking resemblance between the struggles of the modern electronic age and those in past eras. Both in antiquity, when human society began introducing writing as a mode of communication complementing oral communication, and in the middle ages, when society in Western Europe gradually moved to trusting the written over the oral, the seal was a common “technology” for guaranteeing the trustworthiness of documents. In the modern era, when society is struggling to balance the opportunities and challenges of electronic information, electronic signatures are advanced as the new authenticating technology.

ESARBICA Journal Vol.20 2001: 2-42

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0376-4753