Glossary search


n. ~ Digital signatures · The ability to demonstrate the integrity and origin of electronically signed data and to assert that the means to authenticate the data cannot be refuted.

(McCullagh and Caelli 2000) There is a definitional distinction between the legal use of the term 'non-repudiation' and its crypto-technical use. In the legal sense an alleged signatory to a document is always able to repudiate a signature that has been attributed to him or her. The basis for a repudiation of a traditional signature may include: The signature is a forgery; The signature is not a forgery, but was obtained via unconscionable conduct by a party to a transaction, fraud instigated by a third party, undue influence exerted by a third party. ¶ There appears to be a movement within the electronic commerce environment to take away these fundamental rights that exist within common law jurisdictions. The general rule of evidence is that if a person denies a particular signature then it falls upon the relying party to prove that the signature is truly that of the person denying it. It should be understood that the term 'deny' and the term 'repudiate' are synonymous and this position is supported by standard dictionary definitions. ¶ Furthermore, the common law trust mechanism established to overcome a false claim of non-repudiation is witnessing. Witnessing simply occurs at the time the signature is being affixed. That is, by having an independent adult witness the signing of a document reduces the ability of the signatory to successfully deny the signature as a forgery at a later date. It is always open for the signatory to deny the signature on other grounds such as those enumerated above. [Citations omitted.]