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ECURE 2004 March 1-3 2004 Speakers

[photo of Jean-Francois Blanchette]

Jean-François Blanchette
Post-doctoral Fellow
SLAIS, University of British Columbia
The digital signature dilemma: to preserve or not to preserve?


Jean-François Blanchette received a BSc in computer science in 1995, a MSc in computer science with a specialisation in cryptography in 1997, both from the Université de Montréal, and a Ph.D. in social studies of science and technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2002. In 2001, he served on a task force mandated by the French Ministry of Justice to make proposals regarding the adaptation of French evidence law to electronic signatures. He is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, where he is working on the articulation of information technology policies founded on information and archival science principles. In addition, he regularly conducts training seminars dealing with the relationship between computer science, document security and record management principles, most recently for the Association des Archivistes Français.

Presentation Abstract

Since the mid-1990s, dozens of States, including those of the EU, have reformed their evidence laws so as to grant digital signature technologies the same proof value as handwritten signatures, as a mechanism for proving identity of authorship, consentement to obligations, and integrity of electronic records after their transmission accross time and space. Yet, several archival institutions (including the National Archives of Canada, Australia and France) have indicated they have no intention of preserving digitally signed records. This presentation will offer an overview of the concepts of electronic identification, integrity and imputability (including "non-repudiation") as they have been developped within the cryptographic community. It will argue that these concepts underlying digital signatures, founded on reliance on mathematics and technology, are in fact profoundly at odds with the principle of trusted custodianship at the heart of the archival profession.