Feeds

Legally binding e-documents: Germany pushes secure email option

De-mail

High performance access to file storage

Germany is putting its legislative and industrial muscle behind a new secure email system, dubbed De-mail, that aims to become an alternative to conventional paper documents for legally binding transactions.

The service earned a prominent place at the opening of the CeBIT trade show in Hanover at the same time as legislation to make electronic correspondence using such services legally binding is winding its way through the German houses of parliament.

Businesses and individuals looking to use the service will have to prove their identities before being issued with De-mail addresses. Because of this, the service may cut down on spoofing and spam messages, at least in theory, but the main aim is to act as an electronic equivalent to signed documents.

The service fails to offer end-to-end encryption, messages are decrypted and checked for viruses and other nasties en route, so all it provides (at best) is message integrity rather than confidentiality.

Deutsche Telekom, corporate email provider Mentana-Claimsoft and ISP United Internet were among those promoting the service – first trialled late last year – at CeBIT. The German Ministry of the Interior is backing the scheme, which allows service providers to charge for sending messages. Applications could include monthly billing and statements by banks and utilities, IDG reports.

Providers hope that the service will be seen as a faster alternative to recorded delivery snail-mail. Germany is already well ahead of most countries in the availability of e-commerce, so whether the development of the service helps propel it further ahead seems questionable. Service providers have set up the service, but whether merchants and consumers will welcome it is up in the air. For one thing consumers are likely to bridle at the idea of paying to send email. In addition, the types of people most likely to want more secure email (the privacy-conscious and banks) are those who are more likely to set up their own systems or use existing commercial systems such as Hushmail rather than have anything to do with something connected, albeit loosely, to the machinery of German government.

Lastly, supporting the service would involve system modification to corporate email systems, at the enterprise end, and the use of Outlook plug-ins at the consumer end, another potential drawback or at least inhibitor against the uptake of the service. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.