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How the ESign Act Makes Esignatures Work

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As we’ve previously covered the difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures, using an esignature to sign agreements, contracts and similar sorts of documents is a great way to save time and money. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: How the ESign Act Makes Esignatures Work


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How the ESign Act Makes Esignatures Work
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As weve previously covered the difference
between electronic signatures and digital
signatures, using an esignature to sign
agreements, contracts and similar sorts of
documents is a great way to save time and money.
However, its all well and good saying that, but
you need to know some of the reasons why an
esignature really is an accepted way to sign
documents. A signature, as youll know is a
legal entity. It needs to carry weight in a
courtroom so it can be used in any dispute over
an agreement. Notarized, hard copy signatures
have had this ability since the dawn of writing.
However, an electronic version of a signature
needs the same sort of legal validation. To give
something validity, there has to be some sort of
law recognizing it as such. In the U.S. this
legal weighting was given recognition in the form
of an electronic signatures act
called ESIGN. ESIGN stands for Electronic
Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act,
which was enacted into law in 2000. This law
allows electronically signed documents to have
the same legal status as hard copy signed
documents. The act covers both U.S. interstate
and foreign transactions based on an esignature.
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There must be more to ESIGN than this? There is
a signed electronic document needs more than just
a signature to give it that all-important legal
weight. Lets have a look at what a legally
binding electronically signed document actually
is The electronic signatures act (ESIGN) sets
out exactly what an esignature can comprise of.
In the act, it states that an electronic
signature   means an electronic sound, symbol,
or process, attached to or logically associated
with a contract or other record and executed or
adopted by a person with the intent to sign the
record. This is pretty broad statement, so as
long as the signature type itself is covered we
then need to conform to the rest of the
requirements of the ESIGN act to make the
document legal. The whole point of the electronic
signatures act and its respective clauses is to
ensure that an electronic signature solution
carries out certain basic process requirements
that will mean that the signature it has applied
to a document will stand up in a court of law.
This translates to the following
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  • Secure Retention of Signed DocumentsThe act
    requires that the esignature software is capable
    of retaining the document in its original form in
    a secure repository so that all stakeholders have
    access. The ApproveMe esignature will identify
    immediately any changes to a document,
    invalidating the signature and notifying the
    stakeholders of the change.
  • Security and authentication. For a signature to
    hold any muster in court it needs to be proven
    beyond doubt that it was actually signed by the
    person it represents. This can be done using
    authentication at the time of signing. ApproveMe
    offers a number of different methods to tie the
    signature to the signer. This includes email
    access, knowledge-based questions, and receipt of
    an SMS code.
  • Consent The ESIGN act specifies that during a
    B2C workflow process of a document, provision for
    the recipient to be able to consent to the
    electronic process and to have an alternative
    non-electronic option available if they so wish.
    However an esignature is still valid in a court
    of law as long as recipients have access to the
    electronic documents and have some sort of audit
    of the signature process and workflow, the
    electronic signature software is in compliance.
    ApproveMe offers a full audit trail of document
    lifecycle workflow and signature events, with
    timestamps. See section 101/c of the ESIGN act.

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  • Auditability Continuing from above, the
    esignature process must be auditable. This means
    that each part of the lifecycle of the document,
    from creation to multi-party signature
    transactions, should be available to all
    concerned parties. Audits show that each party
    has knowledge of where the process is at any
    point. ApproveMe makes a detailed audit trail
    available from your own online website to all
    stakeholders involved in the signing of an
    agreement. There is then no excuse for not
    knowing where a document is in the process.
  • Nonrepudiation Nonrepudiation is really the
    pillar upon which a digital signature stands. It
    is used to prove, irrevocably, that a signature
    is true and cannot be denied. It is usually
    achieved by using a mix of authentication
    (mentioned above) and signature- document
    integrity. The integrity part is achieved using a
    special type of encryption known as a hash. The
    hash is tied to the signature and if anything
    changes in a document once the signature is
    applied, the hash will change and will show as an
    invalid signature.
  • Is there any catch with esignatures?
  • There are products that allow an esignature to be
    applied to Microsoft Word and PDF for example,
    but as weve seen above, to comply with ESIGN you
    need to go further than a signature.

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  • You need to have a system that makes it easy to
    take a contract, etc. and pull them into a
    workflow process built around esigning. Unless
    you take a holistic approach to electronic
    signing then you wont be able to know, for sure,
    that that contract youre signing is actually
    watertight.
  • ApproveMe is an ESIGN complaint product, check
    out how it can make your workflow processes easy
    and efficient, letting you get on with your
    workday. https//www.approveme.com/
  •  
  • Article Resource https//www.approveme.com/e-sign
    ature/how-the-esign-act-makes-esignatures-work/
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