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Legally binding electronic signatures

Posted on 2013-01-02
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Last Modified: 2013-01-09
One of my municipal clients and I have been flirting with the idea of an electronic PDF form that submits to a URL. We'll post the form on the city's web page and many of the commercial establishments in town will be required to complete the form. We've been wondering about the electronic signature that respondents will include with the from. Is there a legal standard for electronic signatures?
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Question by:jdana
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Paul Sauvé earned 2000 total points
ID: 38738693
Here's a legal article on Canadian and American Legislation on Electronic Signatures.

And some background info: "This is legal, right?" – Electronic Signatures & The Law

Here are some things to keep in mind (quoted from Electronic Signatures - Copyright © 1999-2012 Texas Medical Association - http://www.texmed.org/template.aspx?id=5969):
What Is an Electronic Signature?
There are several definitions to clarify.

A digitized signature is an image of a pen-to-paper signature.
An electronic signature can be an electronic sound, symbol, or process associated with a record. It is a mark added to a document to indicate intent to sign.
A digital signature is a form of encryption that tightly binds documents to a unique number or electronic "fingerprint." Private companies called certification authorities provide private/public software key combinations used to encrypt and decrypt documents, and they issue "certificates" to bind the public keys to the key holders.  However, certification business practice lacks national governance guidelines.

Electronic signatures are legally valid in all 50 states, and the security standards of electronic signatures are addressed in the security and privacy provision of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

HIPAA transactions do not require a digital signature at this time. However, HIPAA-covered entities that use electronic signatures for transactions must adhere to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services electronic signature standards. The software program must provide:
Nonrepudiation - assurance that the signer cannot deny signing the document in the future,
User authentication - verification of the signer's identity at the time the signature was generated, and
Message integrity - certainty that the document has not been altered since it was signed.
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Author Closing Comment

by:jdana
ID: 38760940
Awesome! Thanks.

J
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by:Paul Sauvé
ID: 38761301
I had to attend to this matter concerning commercial vehicle driver logs signatures.

You may want to have your municipal client consult his leagal services.
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