Electronic and Digital Signatures

E-SigningYou’ve seen it and probably done it – you sign with a special pen or even with your finger on a screen or someone’s smart phone! E-signatures have become widespread in both the private and public sectors, and have been recognized as a legal concept in federal law since 2000.

In it’s MOST simplistic and non-legal definition, this is the difference between electronic and digital signatures:

Digital = encryption
Electronic = simple signature in digital form

To reduce the amount of printed papers and expedite the flow of information, many are moving towards digital and/or electronic signatures. The electronic signature is legally binding in a real estate or other business transaction so the process moves forward the same as it would have if the individuals met for an in-person signing. Obviously, not having that meeting saved everyone a great deal of time.

A digital signature provides a high level of security and universal acceptance. It refers to the encryption / decryption technology that the electronic signatures are based on. Digital signatures are based on a technology so that the signature cannot be copied, tampered with or altered.

An electronic signature may be a digitized image of a handwritten signature, symbol, voiceprint, etc. used to identify the author(s) of an electronic message.

As always, you should consult your legal advisor with any questions. If you’d like to do a little research on your own, you can refer to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”) released by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) in 1999 or the U.S. ESign Act of 2000.