Trust Services

Advantages of Using Electronic Time Stamps for your Documents


Digitization requires many new mechanisms that credit the legitimacy of the information. The signature, timestamping and registration of physical documents must have the same legal value in the digital sphere. There are systems to preserve the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of documents. Time stamps provided by a trust service provider are one of those services.

The digital timestamp certifies the existence of unaltered data that for a specific period.

This system is backed by trust services for electronic transactions regulated in Europe by eIDAS regulation No 910/2014. This norm is the legal framework to ensure secure electronic transactions between citizens, companies, and the public sector.

Besides the timestamp, eIDAS regulates other identification mechanisms like the digital signature or electronic seals to promote more secure interactions in the digital sphere.

eIDAS also regulates the figure of the qualified trust service provider: a natural or legal person that provides trust services. This person must have the technical capability and certifications needed to apply the trust mechanisms for electronic transactions.

Regarding the digital time stamp, the qualified service provider acts like a third party that attests the existence of a determined set of electronic data on a specific time and date.

Advantages of applying the digital time stamp

  • Legal guarantees. An electronic time stamp gives documents legal proof that they have not been modified from the moment of its application.
  • It also guarantees the complete integrity of an archived document, fully guaranteeing that its content has not been modified or altered from the moment the time stamp was applied.
  • Improves your company’s competitiveness by offering better security to your clients and suppliers.

How to apply the electronic time stamp

EDICOM offers electronic time stamp services as a certification authority and eIDAS trust services provider.

The eIDAS regulation establishes that a qualified electronic time stamp must comply with the following requirements:

  • The time and date must be liked with the data in a way that reasonably eliminates the possibility of modifying data without detection.
  • The timestamp must be based on a temporary source of information linked to coordinated universal time.
  • Timestamps must be signed through the use of an advanced electronic signature or stamped with an advanced electronic seal from a qualified trust services provider or any other equivalent method.

The procedure to solicit the application of a time stamp requires the following: presenting a summary or hash of the document. Once received, EDICOM will apply the electronic time stamp service seal as a certification authority. EDICOM will then add its digital signature as a certification authority and its certificate and send to the client.

The electronic time stamp and its many uses

There are many activities and relationships in the public and private sphere that use the time stamp certification mechanism as a guarantee in contentious situations.

The electronic signature is a certification mechanism that gives authenticity, integrity, and non-repudiation without a time stamp. However, the time and date of the signed document does not carry the same legal weight, and it also cannot guarantee that the document has not been manipulated since its submission to the time stamp authority.

The digital time stamp is a necessary addition to any process where the certification of predetermined data is key or where the need to prove that a document existed at any given time in a particular format.

One of the most common uses of the time stamp is for the archiving of electronic invoices.  Most countries require the archiving of electronic invoices for a period guaranteeing their integrity and authenticity through time stamps.

For example, when signing a contract, it is important to leave proof of the moment when contractual rights and obligations become valid.

Adding a time stamp to a literary work can be a great protection of your intellectual property in a case involving plagiarism.

Timestamps are useful in the insurance sector or when hiring insurance to back up forensic evidence in the case of claims, by certifying the moment when key photographs were taken.

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