ESignature application

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


The use of electronic media in citizens’ relationships with their public administrations can only take place when there is confidence in the security of networks and information. However, there is still some distrust with regard to electronic transactions and with communications and the transmission of information through new technologies in general. This lack of confidence is an obstacle to the development of eProcurement. Public administrations should ensure security and confidence on all fronts of contact with the public, as it is a basic premise for the effectiveness and expansion of eGovernment.

The electronic signature and the @firma Client arose, in response to this need among other initiatives. @firma Client contributes to providing assurance and increasing confidence in a wide range of online services, especially those requiring a high degree of security in authentication and integrity of data. The Spanish General Directorate for the Promotion of eAdministration has developed and released @firma Client, so that everybody has at their disposal not only a free mechanism to implement digital signatures, but also the source code associated with it. With this initiative, the General Directorate is offering a reference solution to meet the identification and authentication measures described in the Spanish Law 11/2007, on citizens’ electronic access to public services. Other objectives behind this initiative are the promotion and reuse of applications and technology transfer. By releasing @firma Client, stakeholders are unburdened of the hard tasks and costs associated with the development of software modules dealing with ‘eSignature’ in their applications.

The electronic signature and, by extension, the @firma Client constitute a tool to confirm the origin and integrity of messages exchanged through telecommunication networks. The @firma Client component allows users to carry out the process of digitally signing documents in their local machines. This module is distributed independently from the @firma platform, a multi-CA platform validating certificates and electronic signatures, although @firma Client is one of its fundamental pieces. @firma Client goes beyond the signature of files or web forms, features shared by most electronic signature applications, as it allows additional operations such as large-scale multi-signature, co-signature, countersignature, encryption and decryption of data and generation of digital envelopes.

Other innovative features that distinguish it from other tools in its class, including commercial ones, are the wide range of possible signature formats it supports, its compatibility with multiple operating systems and browsers, the ease with which it can be incorporated into other developments and the high level of security provided. According to the principles of reuse of applications and technology transfer, the @firma Client was released in the technology transfer centre forge, with a dual EUPL version 1.1 and GNU GPL version 3 license. With the release, a collaborative community around the project has been created. Anyone interested in the integration of @firma Client or in its development is welcomed and has at their disposal the tools in the forge such as a code and documentation repository, a bugs/queries record, mailing lists, suggestion forum, etc.

Award info
Award category: opening up the public sector
Award type: submission
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Information society, technology, media and audiovisual
Type of activity:
Keywords: Open source, eSignature
Short English description: The electronic signature and, by extension, the @firma Client constitute a tool to confirm the origin and integrity of messages exchanged through telecommunication networks.
Further information
Organisation: Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Administration
Other applicants:
Level of government: national level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Spain
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

ESignature application (40.4373031, -3.6808279)
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