Apart from the Signature and Trust Services Act, the Signature and Trust Services Regulation and the Regulation establishing the suitability of the ‘Secure Information Technology Centre – Austria (A-SIT)’association as a confirmation body, the provisions of Austrian law listed below are of particular importance in this area.
Pursuant to Art. 19 of the E-Government Act (E-GovG), electronic copies of documents issued by authorities (e.g. official decisions) can be furnished with an official signature. The special feature of such a signature is the visual representation of the electronic signature or seal and a matching attribute in the certificate. It is possible to verify an official signature even if the signature or seal data are available only on paper. The certificate for an official signature is usually issued by a legal person and not by a natural person. In accordance with the terminology used in the eIDAS Regulation, as of 1 July 2016 an official signature is no longer referred to as an ‘electronic signature’ but as an ‘electronic seal’.
Secure electronic signatures originally had to meet form requirements for the simple written form. As of 2007, when the 2006 Act amending professional law for notaries, lawyers and chartered engineering consultants (BRÄG 2006) became law, electronic signatures can also comply with what is referred to as the ‘public form’ (in particular for legal transactions requiring a notarial deed, as well as for declarations of intent and legal transactions requiring official certification or attestation in order to be effective). Last wills (testaments), however, still cannot be signed in electronic form with legal effect.
The BRÄG 2006 amended other legislation to introduce electronic signatures in various areas: the electronic signature for the justice system (Art. 89c Par. 3 Court Organisation Act), the electronic authentication signature (Art. 13 Par. 1 Notarial Code, Art. 16 Par. 1 Act on Chartered Engineering Consultants), the electronic notary signature (Art. 13 Par. 1 Notarial Code), the electronic lawyer signature (Art. 21 Par. 2 Lawyers Code) and the electronic chartered engineering consultant signature (Art. 16 Par. 3 Act on Chartered Engineering Consultants).
Art. 43 Par. 4 of the 2006 Federal Procurement Act (BVergG 2006) requires a qualified electronic signature (or a procedure meeting equal quality standards) to be used in the electronic transmission of tender documentation, tenders and documents related to tender evaluation. Where a tender consists of more than one part, it is sufficient to furnish the main part of the tender with a qualified electronic signature and to securely link the other parts of the tender with the main part using hash values (Art. 115 BVergG 2006).