e-Archiving with the Belgian Digital Act

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Since 2014, the European Union approved some regulations to stimulate a more homogenous framework for digital information management. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR – EU 2016/679) and eIDAS regulation  (EU 910/2014) will impact and promote digital business and administrative processes. Every organization in Europe that has to deal with it, is looking for compliancy. At the same time, they should grasp the opportunity to speed up digital transformation and rethink their business processes.

Want to know more about other opportunities for your business? Check out our previous articles about how managing your archives is a big opportunity for eIDAS and GDPR and why digital transformation is the biggest eIDAS opportunity.

GDPR and eIDAS in Belgium

Unlike a directive, the new GDPR and eIDAS regulations do not need to be transposed for the law to come into force in each of the member states. Nonetheless, EU’s legislator has left some margin for member states to adapt or precise some aspects. Belgium has used this flexibility to:

  • Transpose eIDAS in its own legal framework
  • To repeal the 1999 e-signature law
  • Include the Digital Act (formally known as the 21/07/2016 law), as a framework for digital archiving.

Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSP) and digital archiving

The eIDAS regulation does not provide any information regarding digital archiving, and only mentions e-signature (article 34) and digital seal (Article 40) preservation. Based on this regulation, the Belgian law defines how organizations can approach qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSP) for:

  • E-signatures (natural person)
  • Digital seals (legal person)
  • Time-stamping
  • Document digitization
  • Digital preservation.

As for eIDAS and Belgian electronic identification, the principles of legal equivalence and authenticity are de facto applicable for qualified trust services. Regarding Archiving, the Belgian legislator adds the principle of integrity for preserving qualified trust services providers which is always the main legal issue when dealing with digital archiving.

QTSP Requirements

The requirements for digital archiving providers to be certified as a QTSP are yet unknown. Further clarification is expected with the publication of the Royal Decree of Execution. However, we can imagine the responsible task force will add some notes regarding accessibility, perennity and integrity, based on the worldwide recognized standard for Open Archival Information System (ISO 14721:2012).

E-archiving completes the digital transformation

Archiving is the last logical step of information lifecycle management, which the legislator tried to regulate after defining the framework of the previous steps. After eIDAS and GDPR, the Belgian Digital Act will have a big impact on digital business processes. It will obviously be a great opportunity for the digital transformation of any organization.

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