People everywhere want to know if they can eSign or use an online signature to sign documents, and whether or not such electronic signatures really are important. They want to know about how the law recognises electronic signatures. They’re asking us to advise them on how to move away from using handwritten signatures, and to find them more efficient ways of signing their documents. They want to know what the different options are to sign documents electronically.
eSign or use an Online Signature
When you eSign or use an online signature to sign documents you are doing the same as signing using an electronic signature. The two refer to the same thing. In the United States, for example, the most widely used term is “eSign” – eSigning a document. They are an example of a country with a legal framework in place to validate and regulate electronic signatures. Their main legal framework comes from the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act).
As a result of laws such as the ESIGN Act, you can now validly sign documents using electronic signatures.
Gone are the days where your only hope of securing a person’s signature to a transaction was to get them in a room with a pen and have them sign a piece of paper. Back in those days, that was the main way of getting people to confirm that they agree with the terms in a contract. Electronic signatures, on the other hand, allow you to sign more quickly and easily. The parties do not even have to be in the same country in order to sign.
Various forms of signing fall under electronic signatures. Parties scanning and emailing documents signed with a handwritten signature to one another technically counts as an electronic signature, although this is a very unreliable kind of electronic signature (because there is little to no authentication) and you shouldn’t be using it at all (except for very low risk transactions). When one of the parties clicks ‘accept’ to terms and conditions on the other’s online form, they are using a much more reliable example of an electronic signature, suitable for many kinds of online transactions. Digital signatures are one of the most reliable forms of signing electronically. They involve using cryptography to authenticate whether a person is really who they say they are. These are all known as ordinary electronic signatures.
Actions you can take:
- Lawfully sign documents by reading more about electronic signature law and attending a workshop on practically using electronic signatures and the law.
- Find out how to get an advanced electronic signature.
- Get a crash course in electronic signatures by getting the Michalsons Electronic Signature Handbook.