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Archiving of electronic documents

Within the scope of the ArchiSafe project which is supported by BundOnline 2005, fundamentals for the legally safe long-term storage of electronically signed documents over several decades (archiving) have been developed and implemented in the form of a prototype. With a presentation at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) in December 2005, the first phase of the project was successfully completed.

The development of modern administration structures is closely linked with the introduction of electronic files which, however, ensure not only the unimpeded and fast exchange of data and information between the administrative units but can also be manipulated easily and unnoticeably. Progress in eGovernment with electronic files requires that the authenticity and integrity as well as the confidentiality and completeness of the digital documents be ensured. For such an electronic document infrastructure - often in connection with signatures -, also a suitable electronic archive is required.

The development of such an archiving system is the aim of the PTB project ArchiSafe which was created within the scope of the eGovernment Initiative BundOnline 2005. ArchiSafe thereby supports the introduction of uniform standards at the federal level for the legally safe and revision-safe long-term storage (archiving) of electronic documents. An XML data exchange format for electronic documents - including meta data and signature data - has been developed under the designation "ARS" (ArchiSafe Recordkeeping Strategy). Whereas documents which have been archived in proprietary formats, e.g. Microsoft Word®, and without meta data, will no longer be readable in several decades, the ARS format system ensures an improved long-term archiving of documents.

A fully functional, legally safe long-term storage has been implemented as a pilot system on the basis of a professional data processing concept which has already been published (www.archisafe.de). Hard disk storage units are used as filing media which, in comparison to the media which have been used so far for archiving (CD, DVD, magnetic tapes), enable a faster access to the archived data. When the method is used for the first time in practice at PTB, certificates of type approvals, having been created in SAP, will be stored in a long-term archive. Compulsory periods of record-keeping of at least 30 years apply for this type of document.

The certificates will be electronically signed in PDF format and then embedded in the ARS structure, together with the corresponding meta data. After a check, the object will be sent to the long-term storage which ensures the durable conservation of the documents authenticity and integrity and carries out the signature renewal required by the Signature Ordinance. The signature renewal is carried out in accordance with the ArchiSig concept (www.archisig.de).

Unlike the archiving on WORM media (Write Once Read Multiple times), the new method offers the advantage that a subsequent deletion of filed documents, e.g. for reasons of data privacy, and the issuing of a so-called documentary evidence which can be presented in court, is possible without any problems

Contact at PTB:

Phone: +49-531-592-0