The blockchain industry has been criticised for being too complex and not delivering practical real-world solutions. The only way to counter this critique, is by giving the world a firsthand experience to understand and exploit the blockchain technology. To attain this goal, the Atlas 3T team created Timescribe; an easy-to-use, low-cost and blockchain simplified tool that delivers incredible value to the users. There is no prior blockchain knowledge required and Timescribe is free to use. With zero commitment, users will be able to get one step closer to adopting blockchain.
1. What is a timestamp?
The word 'Timestamp' is constructed from two words: 'time' and 'stamp'. Consequently, timestamping is a method of recording the date and time of a specific event. Usually, timestamps are created for documents or files (such as contracts, patents or photographs) and they allow you to prove that the respective document or file existed at a specific point of time in the past.
2. What is Timescribe?
Timescribe is a blockchain-based timestamping tool that allows you to create highly secure and ever-lasting timestamps for any file type. Along with recording date and time, Timescribe also creates a proof of ownership for your files. In short, you can easily create legally recognisable and unchangeable proofs for all your files.
3. Is timestamping legal?
The answer varies depending on the legislations of each nation. However, it is important to know that a timestamped file should not be considered invalid simply due to its electronic nature. It is up to the discretion of the specific nation’s legal authorities to determine whether the timestamp is acceptable or not.
For the European Union:
As directed under Article 42 from REGULATION (EU) No 910/2014 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
A qualified electronic time stamp shall meet the following requirements:
(a) it binds the date and time to data in such a manner as to reasonably preclude the possibility of the data being changed undetectably;
(b) it is based on an accurate time source linked to Coordinated Universal Time; and
(c) it is signed using an advanced electronic signature or sealed with an advanced electronic seal of the qualified trust service provider, or by some equivalent method.
Timescribe is compliant with all the three mentioned criteria. Consequently, files that are stamped using Timescribe will be legally recognised and can serve as a binding proof in the EU member nations.
For the rest of the world:
There are no specific laws that describe acceptance criteria for electronic timestamping. However, this does not mean that timestamps are considered invalid in these regions because they are electronic in nature. Several nations have set out laws to legally recognise electronic signatures and made them binding. Therefore, a timestamp may not be legally binding by itself, but it can be admissible in the court of law as a supplemental proof and may provide you a leverage in supporting your claim.
4. Why use blockchain for timestamping?
The digital timestamping services (that are not blockchain-based) require reliance on a trusted timestamping authority. There are 2 key reasons why this is a problem. Firstly, you must put faith in a third-party for accurately recording and timestamping your important documents. Secondly, you may also risk the security and confidentiality of your file, as you have to share it with the authority for timestamping.
Timepscribe eliminates the need to rely upon a trusted timestamping authority. It leverages the blockchain technology in 4 ways:
- A public blockchain is decentralised and is not controlled by any entity or group. All the proofs registered via Timescribe are publicly accessible and provable. Therefore, you do not have to rely on us for ensuring the integrity of your timestamps.
- It only accesses the hash of your file and not the contents of your file. Therefore, your file remains confidential and no one, except you, will have access to the file contents when you timestamp it.
- The proof created for your file is stored across thousands of computers (or nodes) that are a part of the Ethereum blockchain network. This means that your proof will always be available and no one can tamper with the registered proof.
- Proofs for your files are created within minutes and at extremely low prices as there is no third-party involvement or dependency.
5. What is a hash?
The file you choose can be an image, database, pdf, audio or any other format. The hashing algorithm converts all the contents of the file into a 256-bit string. The hash digest is unique to each file. If you change as much as one character or pixel on the file, the entire hash digest will change. Additionally, these algorithms are one-way functions i.e. you can create a hash digest from a file, but it is impossible to re-create the file from the hash digest.
The use of hashing makes every Timescribe transaction incredibly secure and ensures the confidentiality and uniqueness of proof for each of your files.
6. Why do I have to create two different passwords?
There are two types of passwords on Timescribe: an account password and a keystore password. The account password is the one that allows you to access your account and your Timescribe dashboard. With the account password, you can access pretty much every aspect of Timescribe, apart from creating a timestamp.
For creating a timestamp, you will need to use your keystore password. There is a one-time setup to generate the unique public and private keys and you will be asked to enter a password – this is your keystore password. The public and private keys are essential in the process of timestamping as they allow you to prove that the timestamp for your file was created by your account. The keystore password will be required for unlocking your keys whenever you intend to create a timestamp.
Two different passwords allow for higher security to protect your keys. Anyone who can access the keystore can claim ownership to your timestamps. Therefore, it is extremely important to set your keystore password different from your account password.
7. What are public and private keys?
As the name suggests, public keys are visible to the public whereas private keys are for only your eyes. Public and private keys are always generated as a pair so that they can be linked to each other. Timescribe uses this technology to allow you to create publicly verifiable proofs. When you create a timestamp, the unique hash of your file, a unique signature generated by your private key and your public key are sent to Ethereum as a transaction. Once the transaction is registered, any entity can view the transaction and see your public key, signature and file name – but not your private key. The private key and the signature allow you to lay claim over the timestamp.
8. How long does it take to timestamp a file?
Timescribe is a blockchain-based timestamping tool and therefore relies on the Ethereum network for creating ever-lasting proofs of your file. The time taken for a timestamp is directly related to how ‘busy’ the Ethereum network is. There are certain time periods where several transactions are being processed per second in Ethereum and the more valuable transactions receive priority. The proof confirmation time will vary in accordance with the fee paid for the transaction. However, this fee keeps on fluctuating and can reach exorbitant amounts when the network is extremely busy.
Depending on your chosen plan, Timescribe guarantees to confirm your proof within the mentioned time limit.
9. How does Timescribe work?
10. Is there a way to integrate timestamping into other software?
Yes, Timescribe can easily be integrated with your existing systems. If this is something you’d like for your workplace then please get in touch and we’ll look into sorting you out with a customised solution.