President promotes use of digital certifications

President Laura Chinchilla issued a decree Thursday to require all public agencies to accept and honor digital signatures.

The digital signature has been available for four years, but the use was not very broad. Among the heavy users are lawyers and notaries who can file paperwork from afar as well as vendors doing business with state agencies.

The president noted that the framework for digital signatures exists and has been tested. The digital signature isn’t really a signature. It is an encoded card, similar to a credit card, that provides identification on documents that are in a computer.

Under terms of the decree, state agencies should increase their use of the digital signatures and make sure they have devices to accept them. Those who wish to obtain a digital signature have to present themselves at an outlet of the Sistema Nacional de Certificación Digital.

The government reported Thursday that there are 60,000 digital signatures in existence and that 40 state institutions have a total of 65 services for citizens that can use the system.

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