Cryptographic Timestamping

July 15th, 2007
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

A few years ago I had a great idea for a business that I thought had great potential. The idea was cryptographic timestamping. A way to prove that certain documents or other pieces of information existed at a certain point in time. It would be a great way to fight plagiarism, establish disclosure or just prove that a certain document has existed from a specific point in time. It would be a relatively low overhead business, technically. All that you would need to do is to put up a couple of servers that would create/store signatures and maintain payment accounts. Customers themselves would be responsible to keep their documents safe but the service when presented with the document could verify it’s authenticity and the timestamp of its origin. Recently I thought about this idea again and started to look around to see if anybody has done anything similar. It looks like has beaten me to the punch by about 8 years. The service looks very similar to what I had envisioned with methods for legal verification of the timestamp and everything. It looks to be a quality service with reasonable prices. I may have to take advantage of it sometime.

2 Responses to “Cryptographic Timestamping”

  1. kalaxy Says:

    I wonder if they have patents for the procedure.

  2. snielsen Says:

    There is no indication on the web site that they have any patents on it and a quick search at the USPTO didn’t come up with anything. After Googling a bit it appears like there was a patent application back in 1998 but it was abandonded (

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