Do Your Electronic Signatures Hold Water?

When you use an esign, it performs significant legal functions. E-signatures form a huge part of your electronic records and procedures. They are not marks or badges that make your documents look formal. They are legally accepted badges that are enforceable and carry the same sort of responsibility that handwritten signatures do. When an electronic signature is attached to a document, it makes the document legal and binding. It shows that the parties involved in the transaction are responsible for the changes done in the document.

This technology is very important for businesses that have online payment systems. E-commerce sites get so many benefits if they use an e-signature system. However, as either a business owner or a consumer, how do you know that your signature is legitimate and legally binding?

There are laws governing the use and the regulation of e-signature systems. These regulations have been laid down by the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act or the UETA and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act or ESIGN. Most states have adopted these laws. They have changed the way electronic transactions are completed by making them more secure but still very convenient.

Both laws were created so that electronic signatures would have a specific legal structure to follow. It allows signatures in electronic form to have the same value as traditional, handwritten ones. The UETA and the ESIGN acts give the use of electronic signature software a procedural approach. Both of these regulations state that documents signed with an electronic signature cannot be voided exclusively because it is in electronic form. A document that used an electronic record in its creation also cannot be voided under the law. This means that if a document is signed with an electronic signature, it cannot be denied legality because it was electronically generated. If a contract was drawn with the use of both electronic documents and traditional paper documents, it is still considered legally binding.

Note that an esign does not only have to consist of letters or scribbles. Under the UETA and ESIGN acts, a document is considered electronically signed if it comes with an electronic sound or symbol. This is also the case if it went through an electronic process that expresses the signer’s intent to indicate his agreement with the document. That means that an electronic signature can be a badge or a cryptographically embedded symbol or an electronically printed name that was authorized by the party involved in the document.

The signature used in the document must be attached or associated to the document being signed. It has to be captured with electronic signature software that keeps an associated record of the process used to capture the signature. The software has to make a statement or report of the signature added to the record. The program used to generate the signature acts as its guarantor and should have a system (using serial numbers, timestamps, etc.) that can track down where the signature was captured and whose account it is associated with. Your electronic signature may be invalidated if the software you use does not follow these standards.


Peter Thompson: Peter, a futurist and tech commentator, writes about emerging technology trends and their potential impacts on society.

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