Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Are Digital Signatures Safer Than Ink on Paper?

A recent study by Adobe Systems Inc.has found that 98 percent of surveyed managers still rely on paper and ink signatures but electronic signatures' popularity is increasing. 

Contracts exist primarily for when things go wrong .  It therefore helps to have the contract and to be able to avoid disputes about hte content or execution. 

Executing in hard copy increases the likelihood that a contract will be lost or that the parties will disagree about who executed which version.  Electronic signatures mitigate many of these issues.  Often the the signatory resides in a  different location that the one the contract is being developed in and it can be a daily struggle to get the final "signoff". 

Electronic signatures solve many of these problems.  One person can now upload a copy of the contract and route it for signature.  The signatories can print the contract out or forward for input from their lawyer.  Ultimately the executed document includes an audit trail with the routing information, email addresses and IP addresses of the signatories.

With few exceptions, electronic signatures are equal to their ink counterparts in the eyes of the law.  Since being introduced in 1999, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act has been adopted in 47 states and D.C.  The U.S. federal government joined the movement with the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.  ESIGN allows users to sign electronically, be protected under the law and more easily find these important documents when trouble arises.

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