Electronic Signatures Act, 2011
Act 7 of 2011
- Published in Uganda Gazette no. 19 on 18 March 2011
- Assented to on 17 February 2011
- Commenced on 15 April 2011 by Statutory Instrument of 2011
- [This is the version of this document from 18 March 2011.]
Part 1 – Preliminary
1. CommencementThis Act shall come into force on a date appointed by the Minister by statutory instrument.
2. InterpretationIn this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—"accept a certificate" means—(a)to manifest approval of a certificate, while knowing or having notice of its contents; or(b)to apply to a certification service provider for a certificate, without revoking the application by delivering notice of the revocation to the licensed certification service provider and obtaining a signed, written receipt from the certification service provider, if the certification service provider subsequently issues a certificate based on the application;"advanced electronic signature" means an electronic signature, which is—(a)uniquely linked to the signatory;(b)reliably capable of identifying the signatory;(c)created using secure signature creation device that the signatory can maintain; and(d)linked to the data to which it relates in such a manner that any subsequent change of the data or the connections between the data and the signature are detectable;"asymmetric cryptosystem" means an algorithm or series of algorithms, which provide a secure key pair;"authorised officer" means the Controller or a police officer or a public officer performing any functions under this Act; and includes any public officer authorised by the Minister or by the controller to perform any functions under this Act;"certificate" means a data message or other records confirming the link between a signatory and a signature creation data;"certification service provider disclosure record" means an online and publicly accessible record that concerns a licensed certification service provider, which is kept by the Controller under subsection 21(5);"certification practice statement" means a declaration of the practices, which a certification service provider employs in issuing certificates generally or employs in issuing a particular certificate;"certification service provider" means a person that issues certificates and may provide other services related to electronic signatures;"certify" means to declare with reference to a certificate, with ample opportunity to reflect and with a duty to apprise oneself of all material facts;"confirm" means to ascertain through diligent inquiry and investigation;"Controller" means National Information Technology Authority-Uganda;"correspond", with reference to keys, means to belong to the same key pair;"currency point" has the meaning assigned to it in the Schedule in this Act;"digital signature" means a transformation of a message using an asymmetric cryptosystem such that a person having the initial message and the signer’s public key can accurately determine—(a)whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key; and(b)whether the message has been altered since the transformation was made;"electronic signature" means data in electronic form affixed to or logically associated with a data message, which may be used to identify the signatory in relation to the data message and indicate the signatory's approval of the information contained in the data message; and includes an advance electronic signature and the secure signature;"electronic signature product" means configured hardware or software or relevant components of it, which are intended to be used by a certification service provider for the provision of electronic signature services or are intended to be used for the creation or verification of electronic signatures;"forge a digital signature" means—(a)to create a digital signature without the authorisation of the rightful holder of the private key; or(b)to create a digital signature verifiable by a certificate listing as subscriber a person who either does not exist or does not hold the private key corresponding to the public key listed in the certificate;"hold a private key" means to be able to utilise a private key;"incorporate by reference" means to make one message a part of another message by identifying the message to be incorporated and expressing the intention that it be incorporated;"issue a certificate" means the act of a certification service provider in creating a certificate and notifying the subscriber listed in the certificate of the contents of the certificate;"key pair" means a private key and its corresponding public key in an asymmetric cryptosystem, where the public key can verify a digital signature that the private key creates;"licensed certification service provider" means a certification service provider to whom a licence has been issued by the Controller and whose licence is in effect;"message" means a digital representation of information;"Minister" means the Minister responsible for information and communication technology;"notify" means to communicate a fact to another person in a manner reasonably likely under the circumstances to impart knowledge of the information to the other person;"person" includes any company or association or body of persons corporate or unincorporate;"prescribed" means prescribed by or under this Act or any regulations made under this Act;"private key" means the key of a key pair used to create a digital signature;"public key" means the key of a key pair used to verify a digital signature and listed in the digital signature certificate;"public key infrastructure" means a framework for creating a secure method for exchanging information based on public key cryptography;"publish" means to record or file in a repository;"qualified certification service provider" means a certification service provider that satisfies the requirements under section 23;"recipient" means a person who receives or has a digital signature and is in a position to rely on it;"recognised date or time stamp service" means a date/time stamp service recognised by the Controller under section 79;"recognised repository" means a repository recognised by the Controller under section 77;"recommended reliance limit" means the monetary amount recommended for reliance on a certificate under section 76;"relying party" means a person that may act on the basis of a certificate or an electronic signature;"repository" means a system for storing and retrieving certificates and other information relevant to digital signatures;"revoke a certificate" means to make a certificate ineffective permanently from a specified time forward;"rightfully hold a private key" means to be able to utilise a private key—(a)which the holder or the holder’s agents have not disclosed to any person in contravention of this act; and(b)which the holder has not obtained through theft, deceit, eavesdropping or other unlawful means;"security procedure" means a procedure for the purpose of—(a)verifying that an electronic record is that of a specific person; or(b)detecting error or alteration in the communication, content or storage of an electronic record since a specific point in time, which may require the use of algorithms or codes, identifying words or numbers, encryption, answer back or acknowledgement procedures or similar security devices;"secure signature creation device" means a signature creation device which meets the requirements laid down in section 4;"signatory" means a person that holds signature creation data and acts either on its own behalf or on behalf of the person it represents"signature creation device" means configured software or hardware, used by the signatory to create an electronic signature;"signature verification data" means unique data such as codes or public cryptographic keys, used for the purpose of verifying an electronic signature;"signature verification device" means configured software or hardware, used for the purpose of verifying an electronic signature;"signed" or "signature" and its grammatical variations includes any symbol executed or adapted or any methodology or procedure employed or adapted, by a person with the intention of authenticating a record, including an electronic or digital method;"subscriber" means a person who—(a)is the subject listed in a certificate;(b)accepts the certificate; and(c)holds a private key which corresponds to a public key listed in that certificate;"suspend a certificate" means to make a certificate ineffective temporarily for a specified time forward;"this Act" includes any regulations made under this Act;"time-stamp" means—(a)to append or attach to a message, digital signature or certificate a digitally signed notation indicating at least the date, time and identity of the person appending or attaching the notation; or(b)the notation appended or attached;"transactional certificate" means a certificate, incorporating by reference one or more digital signatures, issued and valid for a specific transaction;"trustworthy system" means computer hardware and software which—(a)are reasonably secure from intrusion and misuse;(b)provide a reasonable level of availability, reliability and correct operation; and(c)are reasonably suited to performing their intended functions;"valid certificate" means a certificate which—(a)a licensed certification service provider has issued;(b)has been accepted by the subscriber listed in it;(c)has not been revoked or suspended; and(d)has not expired,but a transactional certificate is a valid certificate only in relation to the digital signature incorporated in it by reference;"verify a digital signature" means, in relation to a given digital signature, message and public key, to determine accurately that—(a)the digital signature was created by the private key corresponding to the public key; and(b)the message has not been altered since its digital signature was created;"writing" or "written" includes any handwriting, typewriting, printing, electronic storage or transmission or any other method of recording information or fixing information in a form capable of being preserved.
3. Equal treatment of signature technologiesNothing in this Act shall be applied so as to exclude, restrict or deprive of legal effect any method of creating an electronic signature that satisfies the requirements for a signature in this Act or otherwise meets with the requirements of any other applicable law.
Part II – Electronic signatures
4. Compliance with a requirement for a signature
5. Conduct of the signatory
6. Variation by agreementThe provisions of this Act may be derogated from or their effect may be varied by agreement unless that agreement would not be valid or effective under any law.
7. Conduct of the relying partyA relying party shall bear the legal consequences of his or her failure to—
8. TrustworthinessWhen determining whether or to what extent any systems procedures and human resources utilised by a certification service provider are trustworthy, regard may be had to the following factors—
9. Conduct of the certification service provider
10. Advanced signatures
11. Secure electronic signatureWhere, through the application of a prescribed security procedure or a commercially reasonable security procedure agreed to by the parties involved, an electronic signature is executed in a trustworthy manner, reasonably and in good faith relied upon by the relying party, that signature shall be treated as a secure electronic signature at the time of verification to the extent that it can be verified that the electronic signature satisfied, at the time it was made, the following criteria—
12. Presumptions relating to secure and advanced electronic signatures
Part III – Secure digital signatures
13. Secure digital signaturesWhen a portion of an electronic record is signed with a digital signature the digital signature shall be treated as a secure electronic signature in respect of that portion of the record, if—
14. Satisfaction of signature requirements
15. Unreliable digital signatures
16. Digitally signed document taken to be written document
17. Digitally signed document deemed to be original documentA copy of a digitally signed message shall be as valid, enforceable and effective as the original of the message unless it is evident that the signer designated an instance of the digitally signed message to be a unique original, in which case only that instance constitutes the valid, enforceable and effective message.
18. Authentication of digital signaturesA certificate issued by a licensed certification service provider shall be an acknowledgement of a digital signature verified by reference to the public key listed in the certificate, regardless of whether words of an express acknowledgement appear with the digital signature and regardless of whether the signer physically appeared before the licensed certification service provider when the digital signature was created, if that digital signature is—
19. Presumptions in adjudicating disputesIn adjudicating a dispute involving a digital signature, a court shall presume—
Part IV – Public key infrastructure (PKI)
20. Sphere of applicationThis Part applies to digital signatures or signatures that are able to use the public key infrastructure (PKI).
22. Certification service providers to be licensed
23. Qualifications of certification service providers
24. Functions of licensed certification service providers
25. Application for licence
26. Grant or refusal of licence
27. Revocation of licence
29. Surrender of licence
30. Effect of revocation, surrender or expiry of licence
31. Effect of lack of licence
32. Return of licence
33. Restricted licence
34. Restriction on use of expression "certification service provider"
35. Renewal of licence
36. Lost license
37. Recognition of other licenses
38. Performance audit
39. Activities of certification service providers
40. Requirement to display licenseA certification service provider shall at all times display its license in a conspicuous place at its place of business and on its website.
41. Requirement to submit information on business operations
42. Notification of change of information
43. Use of trustworthy systems
44. Disclosures on inquiry
45. Prerequisites to issue of certificate to subscriber
46. Publication of issued and accepted certificate
47. Adoption of more rigorous requirements permittedNothing in sections 31 and 32 shall preclude a certification service provider from conforming to standards, certification practice statements, security plans or contractual requirements more rigorous than, but nevertheless consistent with, this Act.
48. Suspension or revocation of certificate for faulty issuance
49. Suspension or revocation of certificate by order
50. Warranties to subscriber
51. Continuing obligations to subscriberUnless the subscriber and certification service provider otherwise agree, a certification service provider, by issuing a certificate, promises to the subscriber—
52. Representations upon issuanceBy issuing a certificate, a certification service provider certifies to all who reasonably rely on the information contained in the certificate that—
53. Representations upon publicationBy publishing a certificate, a certification service provider certifies to the repository in which the certificate is published and to all who reasonably rely on the information contained in the certificate that the licensed certification service provider has issued the certificate to the subscriber.
54. Implied representations by subscriberBy accepting a certificate issued by a certification service provider, the subscriber listed in the certificate certifies to all who reasonably rely on the information contained in the certificate that—
55. Representations by agent of subscriberBy requesting on behalf of a principal the issue of a certificate naming the principal as subscriber, the requesting person certifies in that person's own right to all who reasonably rely on the information contained in the certificate that the requesting person—
56. Disclaimer or indemnity limitedA person shall not disclaim or contractually limit the application of this part, nor obtain indemnity for its effects, if the disclaimer, limitation or indemnity restricts liability for misrepresentation as against persons reasonably relying on the certificate.
57. Indemnification of certification service provider by subscriber
58. Certification of accuracy of information givenWhen obtaining information from a subscriber which is material to the issue of a certificate, the certification service provider may require the subscriber to certify the accuracy of the relevant information under oath or affirmation.
59. Duty of subscriber to keep private key secureBy accepting a certificate issued by a certification service provider, the subscriber named in the certificate assumes a duty to exercise reasonable care to retain control of the private key and prevent its disclosure to any person not authorised to create the subscriber’s digital signature.
60. Property in private keyA private key is the personal property of the subscriber who rightfully holds it.
61. Fiduciary duty of a certification service providerWhere a certification service provider holds the private key corresponding to a public key listed in a certificate which it has issued, the certification service provider shall hold the private key as a fiduciary of the subscriber named in the certificate and may use that private key only with the subscriber’s prior written approval, unless the subscriber expressly and in writing grants the private key to the licensed certification service provider and expressly and in writing permits the licensed certification service provider to hold the private key according to other terms.
62. Suspension of certificate by certification service provider
63. Suspension of certificate by Controller
64. Notice of suspension
65. Termination of suspension initiated by requestA certification service provider shall terminate a suspension initiated by request—
66. Alternate contractual procedures
67. Effect of suspension of certificateNothing in this Part shall release the subscriber from the duty under section 47 to keep the private key secure while a certificate is suspended.
68. Revocation on request
69. Revocation on subscriber’s demiseA licensed certification service provider shall revoke a certificate which it issued—
70. Revocation of unreliable certificates
71. Notice of revocation
72. Effect of revocation request on subscriberWhere a subscriber has requested for the revocation of a certificate, the subscriber ceases to certify as provided in Part IV and has no further duty to keep the private key secure as required under section 59—
73. Effect of notification on certification service providerUpon notification as required under section 71, a certification service provider shall be discharged of its warranties based on issue of the revoked certificate and ceases to certify as provided in sections 22 and 24 in relation to the revoked certificate.
74. Expiration of certificate
75. Reliance limit
76. Liability limits for certification service providersUnless a licensed certification service provider waives the application of this section, a licensed certification service provider—
77. Recognition of repositories
78. Liability of repositories
79. Recognition of date or time stamp services
Part V – Miscellaneous
80. Prohibition against dangerous activities
81. Obligation of confidentiality
82. False informationA person who knowingly makes, orally or in writing, signs or furnishes any declaration, return, certificate or other document or information required under this Act which is false or misleading in any particular way commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred and twenty currency points or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.
83. Offences by body corporate
84. Authorised officerAn authorised officer may exercise the powers of enforcement under this Act.
85. Power to investigate
86. Search by warrant
87. Search and seizure without warrantIf a police officer not below the rank of Inspector in any of the circumstances referred to in section 86 has reasonable cause to believe that by reason of delay in obtaining a search warrant under that section the investigation would be adversely affected or evidence of the commission of an offence is likely to be tampered with, removed, damaged or destroyed, that officer may enter the premises and exercise in, upon and in respect of the premises all the powers referred to in section 86 in as full and ample a manner as if he or she were authorised to do so by a warrant issued under that section.
88. Access to computerised data
89. List of things seized
90. Obstruction of authorised officerA person who obstructs, impedes, assaults or interferes in any way with any authorised officer in the performance of his functions under this Act commits an offence.
91. Additional powersAn authorised officer may, for the purposes of the execution of this Act, to do all or any of the following—
92. General penalty
93. Institution and conduct of prosecution
94. Jurisdiction to try offencesNotwithstanding any written law to the contrary, a Magistrate Grade I shall have jurisdiction to try an offence under this Act and to impose the full punishment for the offence.
95. Protection of officersAn action or prosecution shall not be brought, instituted or maintained in a court against the Controller or any officer duly authorised under this Act for or on account of or in respect of any act ordered or done for the purpose of carrying into effect this Act.
96. Limitation on disclaiming or limiting application of ActUnless it is expressly provided for under this Act, a person shall not disclaim or contractually limit the application of this Act.
98. CompensationWhere a person is convicted under this Act, the court shall in addition to the punishment provided therein, order such person to pay by way of compensation to the aggrieved party, such sum as is in the opinion of the court just, having regard to the loss suffered by the aggrieved party; and such order shall be a decree under the provisions of the Civil Procedure Act, and shall be executed in the manner provided under that Act.
99. Power of Minister to amend the ScheduleThe Minister may, with the approval of Cabinet, by statutory instrument, amend the Schedule to this Act.
100. Savings and transitional provisions
History of this document
15 April 2011
18 March 2011 this version
Published in Uganda Gazette number 19
17 February 2011