CCA to unveil standard for mobile digital signature

So far CCA has issued 52 lakh digital signature certificates (DSC) and has impanelled eight certifying authorities

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Pratap Vikram Singh | March 20, 2013



Recognising the need for securing electronic transactions happening through mobile phones, the government is planning to come up with a standard for digital certificates for the mobile platform later this year.
 
Digital signature (or say digital signature certificates) is the digital counterpart of traditional ink signature, unique to each individual, and used for authentication and non-repudiation of a document. Primarily used in e-commerce and e-tendering, digital signature tokens are plugged into computers for any electronic transaction. In recent times, even mobile phones are being used for e-transactions.
 
“We have constituted a committee which would give recommendations on what kind of public-key infrastructure (PKI) environment for mobile phones should be created, as everyone one wants to do everything with cellphones today. We are in the process of issuing a standard for this to happen in the country,” said TA Khan, controller of certifying authorities (CCA), a body under department of electronics and information technology (DeitY), ministry of communications and information technology. Khan was speaking at a workshop on ‘Role of Corporates in Securing the Digital Environment’, organised by FICCI and the ministry.
 
The department will issue an additional notification under the IT Act in this regard. Set up in 2000, CCA has been appointed under section 17 of the IT Act; it aims to promote e-commerce and e-governance through wide use of digital signatures.
 
Khan said that the CCA has also initiated third-party time-stamping services, which would provide details of when a transaction took place. This will be of particular help in e-tendering, as bid submissions are done strictly under a time frame.
 
Khan also said that his department is working with the ministry of commerce to make trade paperless. Usually, document formalities consume a lot of time in case of imports and exports. If documents are digitally signed and are accepted by the partnering countries, this will simplify the processes involved and reduce the time spent in paperwork. 
 
“There is a UN resolution which facilitates paperless trade across the globe. United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) in its last yearly meeting adopted that paperless trade will be facilitated in the region. We are working to make that happen in India,” Khan said.
 
So far CCA has issued 52 lakh digital signature certificates (DSC) and has impanelled eight certifying authorities.
 
J Satyanarayana, secretary, DeitY, said that for digital certification, both security and trust were needed. “e-Praman, one of the initiatives of DeitY, will help establish the identity of the people, and help in building trust and securing the user’s identity in cyber space,” he said.
 
“Moving forward, we should target for issuing 50 crore digital signature certificates,” he said.
 
Sivarama Krishnan, executive director, PwC, said that digital signatures reduce nearly 50 percent of time spent by organisations in closing wet signature requirements. Due to electronic signatures, business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions are expected to witness a fillip in online transactions.
 
“e-Commerce cannot really take off till such time as we ensure sufficient security of the transactions that take place in cyber space,” Dr A Didar Singh, secretary general, FICCI, noted.

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