Public authorities have an electronic signature or “seal”, just like citizens, referred to as the official signature, which they can use to sign contracts digitally.
The official signature is affixed to documents, to denote them as being official documents from the public authority. The public authority can be identified by means of the official signature. The signature also ensures that the document can be verified.
The official signature must possess certain attributes, which verify the signature itself and confirm the validity of the document even when a copy is printed on paper. The Austrian eGovernment Act states in §19 that, in addition to the logo and the signature verification information, an indicator must be included that shows that the document was officially signed by the authority. It would make sense for this indicator to have a standard design so that everyone involved in eGovernment can easily recognize an official signature, whether citizen, business or public authority.
In addition to the sovereign administration, the public administration may now also use the official signature within the framework of the private sector administration pursuant to §19, Par. 2 of the eGovernment Act (E-GovG). In such a case, however, the information that the print-out of the officially signed document also has the validity of a public certificate must be omitted in the field “Note”.
The Federal Chancellery makes software modules available free-of-charge, which can be used to integrate the online application or the citizen card software in the respective IT infrastructure of an authority. Central IT service providers also offer the official signature as a shared service, so that an own internal solution is not necessary within the administration authority.
The presentation of the official signature of electronic documents is done by a figurative mark.