Since the mid-1990s, dozens of States, including those of the EU, have reformed their evidence laws so as to grant digital signature technologies the same proof value as handwritten signatures, as a mechanism for proving identity of authorship, consentement to obligations, and integrity of electronic records after their transmission across time and space. Yet, several archival institutions (including the National Archives of Canada, Australia and France) have indicated they have no intention of preserving digitally signed records. This paper presents an overview of the development of digital signatures by the cryptographic research community, and the process of its legal codification as evidence of contractual relations. It argues that the process overlooked the problems induced by the need to preserve digital signatures over the long-term. It presents currently offered solutions to digital signature preservation, suggesting that they are in fact profoundly at odds with the principle of trusted custodianship at the heart of the archival profession.
Jean-François Blanchette, "The Digital Signature Dilemma: To Preserve or Not to Preserve" in Proc. IS&T Archiving 2004, 2004, pp 221 - 226, https://doi.org/10.2352/issn.2168-3204.2004.1.1.art00047