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The Challenge
For nearly 150 years, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has been the official disseminator of Government documents and has assured users of their authenticity.
The adoption of digital technology has changed the ways products are created, managed, and delivered to users. Electronic documents pose a special challenge to the verification of their authenticity because they can be altered, which could lead to unauthorized versions of government content. GPO must assure users that publications available from GPO websites are as official and authentic as publications that have been printed and disseminated by GPO for 150 years and that trust relationships exist between all parties in electronic transactions.

GPO's Charge
To help meet the challenge of the digital age, GPO has begun implementing measures that establish GPO as the trusted information disseminator, but also provide the assurance that an electronic document has not been altered since GPO disseminated it.
The visible digital signatures on online PDF documents serve the same purpose as handwritten signatures or traditional wax seals on printed documents. A digital signature, viewed through the GPO Seal of Authenticity, verifies document integrity and authenticity on GPO online Federal documents, at no cost to the customer.

How Does it Work?
GPO uses a digital certificate to apply digital signatures to PDF documents. In order for users to validate the certificate that was used by GPO to apply a digital signature to document, a chain of certificates or a certification path between the certificate and an established point of trust must be established, and every certificate within that path must be checked.

  • Users must be connected to the Internet in order to have the ability to validate a digital signature on a PDF document. If a user is not connected to the Internet, the Certification Question Mark icon will display. Please see the Validation Icons section on the Authentication FAQ page for more information.
  • Validation is seamless in Adobe Acrobat or Reader in versions 7.0 or higher.
  • GPO has created presentations to demonstrate the validation process in version 9.0, version 8.0 or in version 7.0.
  • Version 8.0 or higher is recommended. Users of earlier versions are encouraged to upgrade to the current version.
  • Authentication FAQ page.

Software Requirements for Validating Authenticity
Adobe Acrobat or Reader 8.0 or 7.0

GPO Document Authentication Workshop - June, 18, 2010

GPO Authentication Initiative Documentation

For Further Reading

Quick Links

Authentication FAQ
Definitions & Acroynms pdf

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