In the 2019 IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, Taiwan was ranked 9th in technology and 13th in digital competitiveness. The ranking was based on primary categories of knowledge, technology, and future-readiness. Taiwan’s position shows its proactive approach to the development of emerging technologies to boost its economy and its industrialization.

Digital Signature in Taiwan

Taiwan was once a country that took international aid from nations like the U.S. but it has steadily transformed its economy and now is a major foreign investor. The country even competes with the U.S. in the semiconductor industry. This technological powerhouse is updated with digitalization and automation. Some of the best-paid jobs in Taiwan are in sectors such as telecommunication, financial services, and utility services. These are sectors where digital signatures have become almost commonplace.

Insights into Taiwan’s laws

Taiwan has had influence from the Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and most of all the Chinese. This history has to lead them to have a Civil Law system, on the basis of a written constitution with specific codes that preserve basic rights and duties. In this society only legislating enactments are for all and sundry.

The courts in Taiwan uphold specific essential codes. This means that there are separate civil, constitutional, and administrative court systems that determine and interpret the specific essential codes. These laws are more mandated this could mean less freedom for writing up contracts and more regulation for digital signatures in Taiwan. In reality, when a certain party makes legal provisions into a contract by law, other parties cannot contract out of certain provisions implicated and implied within the law.

This general understanding of Taiwan’s laws is needed to understand the essence of the legalities of digital signatures in Taiwan. For instance, in Taiwan, a written signature is not absolutely necessary for a contract to be valid. Generally, a contract is deemed legal if the involved parties reach an acknowledged agreement physically, verbally, or electronically. Thus,

engaged parties can use any form of electronic signature but with the consent of the others to validate contracts and documents of any kind however if a court case arises, the parties involved might be required to present evidence of consenting to this agreement.

Electronic Signature Laws in Taiwan

Taiwan commissioned the Electronic Signature Act on 14 November 2001. This is the law that regulates the legality and use of electronic records and electronic signatures. This law was needed because Taiwan was becoming a technology giant with a society that had become accustomed to the internet. A digital certificate system that extends to foreign residents was also made for its citizens.

Since the law was passed the use of electronic signatures became common. They are typically used in Taiwan for licenses regarding copyrights, patents and trademarks, software license agreements, lease agreements, invoices, purchase orders and even company documents such as nondisclosure agreements, privacy notices,  and so on

The intent is a prerequisite in accordance with Taiwan’s Civil Code when it comes to transactions and can be declared either orally, in the presence of the other party, or remotely, as an electronic record with the expressed consent of the agreeing party. In Taiwan’s law Act there are two types of e-signatures defined, these are ‘electronic signatures’ and ‘digital signatures’.

An electronic signature was defined as data attached to and associated with an electronic record that enables the identification and verification of the signatory and their credentials as well as the authenticity of the electronic record. While within the law, a digital signature seems to be a special technical version of an electronic signature. It was defined as an electronic signature made by transforming an electronic record into a certain length of digital data using a mathematical algorithm or other processing methods and encryption with a private key of the signatory, that can be verified by a public key.