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Electronic Signatures

Big question and not sure where my question falls in the security category.

Because electronic transmission and softcopy distribution are becoming more common in the business workplace and at least, in my work environment we are using Windows 2000 Applications and servers, does the transmission of electronic signature legal binding because of the time stamp that can be applied via the software being run? It may seem like an odd-ball question but BLUF is can an application with time stamp capability on a document having an electronic signature be legally binding in court--anyway heard of this being upheld or thrown out of court?
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Bellpm2006
Asked:
Bellpm2006
2 Solutions
 
nexissteveCommented:
An e-mail without an electronic signature can be a legally binding document.

You have to prove that the e-mail didnt originate from your account.

Unfortunately contract law works in the area of "guilty until proven innocent". A digital signature is actually a good idea if you back it up with the appropriate policys and procedures.

cheers

S
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kevinf40Commented:
This wiki article has links to three cases involving digital signature related issues:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signature

The laws around digital signatures (as with most things) do vary so just how legally binding these systems are may depend on where you are based.

If you are US based this tutorial on digital signature guidelines from the American Bat Association should provide you with useful guidance:
http://www.abanet.org/scitech/ec/isc/dsg-tutorial.html

From the financial cryptography website where it was ruled that digital signatures where equivalent to handwritten signatures in Estonia...:
http://www.financialcryptography.com/mt/archives/000250.html

While slightly beyond the remit of your specific question, the following is also I believe relevant - The whole process and what you want to achieve needs to be considered.  In addition to proving that the document / communication has Authenticity and Integrity - e.g. that it is complete and has not been tampered with since it was signed.  The process should also offer non-repudiation - the person who signed it cannot successfully claim the did not sign the document.
If a system such as this is to be relied upon you must also consider key management and user education around keeping their keys safe is of paramount importance.

cheers

K
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e_vanheelCommented:
I would call your companys lawyer and get a legal opinion in writing if you are truly concerned.
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Tim HolmanCommented:
ANY electronic communication can be used in court.  The more difficult thing to prove though is WHO was using the PC at that time?  Without 2-factor authentication and/or security cameras, this can be very difficult to prove and this is where most court cases fall apart.  Usually before they reach the courts.  ;)
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liamkellycabraCommented:
depends on the country and where the evidence is being applied.

For example in Ireland an electrionic signature is binding in Law - its like you singed it yourself with a pen and a laywer was there watching.

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/3740.html

You need to investigate the region you are in and where your communication partners are.

Also be aware that in certain countries it is illegal to have certain types (levels) of encryption, this includes PGP / PKI signatures, so if you are traveling you need to know if your laptop is safe to import into that country

http://www.debian.org/legal/cryptoinmain
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kevinf40Commented:
Hi Bellpm

Can I ask you to explain your method of awarding points?

Your question specifically asked "anyway heard of this being upheld or thrown out of court?" to which I provided links to actual examples of this.

The answer you accepted with no assists awarded did not answer your specific point.  I believe the points should at the least be shared.

As with your previous question I am happy to receive no points if you can explain how I missed the mark and how the accepted answer was completely correct - this will be useful for my understanding.

cheers

K
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nexissteveCommented:

I agree Kevin should get an assist. I also think my answer is directly to the point.  "does the transmission of electronic signature legal binding because of the time stamp that can be applied via the software being run?"

My answer was concise, factual and provided the nescecary information.

I did not answer the second part of the question as the first answer outweighs and quite possibly negates the reason for answering the second.

I will and do support the awarding of points in this instance however. Points contribute to a community members willingness to offer more to the community. And Kevin obviously felt stongly enough to ask for recognition of his contribution.

Cheers

Steve

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kevinf40Commented:
Hi Steve

Thanks for your magnanimous response.

As mentioned in my query this was a much about finding out how the site works as it was about thinking my answer was valid.

At work I'm very big on crediting people where it is due - e.g. I will never say I did something if the solution actually involved input from others without crediting them as well. - I guess I tend to expect this from others as well.

Regardless of the points you have certainly contributed to the sites community spirit!

cheers

K
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nexissteveCommented:
Hi K,

My comments read with a tad of sarcasm, and it was directed as friendly dig ;o)

I get the same thing happening in a lot of questions. But it doesnt really bug me too much, I look at it in the context of what goes around comes around.

Take a look at this one : http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Q_21848093.html#16668293

Can you spot who answers the question correctly?

Cheers

S


PS . I was however quite serious that you should receive a points split. Admin can you split the points please?
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Bellpm2006Author Commented:
I first want to apoligize in my not responding quick. I see there may be some disagreements on who has provided the higher level of fidelity on data I required. I want to be very fair and if I assessed assigning a point score that was tipped in either direction I meant to equally split the purse, or recognition. You have been extremely helpful and so your collective responses and/or attached websites is top-notch and I appreciate your help.

regards,

Paul
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