Class 2 Digital Signatures Certificates (DSC) Discontinued

by Kunwar Surya Pratap
Posted on Mon, 07 December, 2020, 09:45 PM IST

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The Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) released guidance dated November 26, 2020, notifying that Class 2 Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) issuance will be discontinued from January 1, 2021. Post the new year day, the Certifying Authorities would only be permitted to issue Class 3 DSCs for required purposes. The note also mentioned other guidelines with respect to eKYC Account, DSC Forms, Verification of Person and Documents, Encryption Certificates, etc. The relevant para from the guideline can be read below:

"1.13 Key pair generation/ Storage

CA shall issue class 3 level individual signing certificate (both Personal & organizational) to the private key generated on a FIPS 140-2 level 2/3 validated Hardware cryptographic module (crypto tokens) with both Class 2 and Class 3 OID in the policy field. CA shall not issue class 2 level individual Signing certificates."

The DSCs are granted by the Certification Agencies under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 by following the procedure and guidelines mandated by the CCA. The IT Act has provisions for use of Digital Signatures on the documents submitted in electronic form in order to ensure the security and authenticity of the documents filed electronically. This is a secure and authentic way to submit a document electronically.

It is notable that Class 2 DSCs are the most used digital signatures among others to sign documents for professional and business purposes. It is primarily used in MCA forms (company formation, SPICe, etc), Income Tax Returns, Audit Reports, Trademark applications, etc. The discontinuance of Class 2 digital signatures would compel the users to go for Class 3 DSCs for all such purposes, thereby making them pay a significantly higher price. It is for that reason, it is suggested that the existing users of Class 2 signature shall get their DSC renewed for a one or two-year period to enjoy extended benefits during the discontinued tenure. It is yet to be seen if the Authority comes up with an economical alternative to the Class 2 DSC. In a growing age of sustainable work practices, people shall be promoted to use less paper by using digital modes of communication, signature, authorizations, etc.


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