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A licensed certifying authority issues digital signatures. A certifying authority is a person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate.
There are different classes of digital signatures:
Class I DSC’s – this DSC validates the email identification of the user.
Class II DSC’s – this DSC confirms that the information in the application, provided by the subscriber, does not conflict with the information in a well-recognized consumer database. It is issued to both business personnel and private individuals.
Class III DSC’s – this DSC is issued directly by the certifying authority and indicates the higher level of authenticity since an applicant needs to present himself or herself in front of registration authority and prove his/her identity.
DSC can be used for e-filing of income tax returns or e-tendering on websites for government department and ministries.
Some suggested usages for the three classifications are:
Class I DSC – can be used by employers during communications with their employees via email.
Class II DSC – can be used for the e-filing of income tax returns, sales tax return, etc.
Class III DSC – can be used to participate in e-tendering or e-auctions organized by government or public sector companies.
As per the Information Technology Act 2000, digital signatures are valid in India and are issued by licensed certifying authorities under the Ministry of Information Technology.
Apart from this validation, digital signatures have an explicit starting date and an explicit expiration date. The expiration date is also used for managing the Certificate Revocation List (CRL). A certificate is removed from the revocation list when the expiration date arrives.
One individual can have two DSC’s. One DSC may be used for personal identification and others for official identification.