BlogAdriana Fernandes4 min read

Are Electronic Signatures Safe and Legally Binding?

Are Electronic Signatures Safe and Legally Binding?

Find out more about the main concerns on e-signatures and its validity in court ⚖️

Can you use a digital signature for anything?

Are Electronic Signatures Safe?

Yes, electronic signatures are safe. In fact, they can be even more secure than wet signatures, which are more easily subject to forgery and tampering.

Electronic signatures come with many layers of security and authentication built into them — apart from an audit trail that can link any electronic record associated with the electronic signature. 🕵️‍♀️

An Electronic Signature can include the following: ✍️

  • When the document was opened, viewed, and signed

  • IP address and devices that were used

  • Modifications made to the document prior to the signature

  • Geolocation where it was signed

  • Disclosure of agreement to use e-signature

  • Signature image

  • And more details, according to the software that was used

How to verify the signer's identity?

There are various ways to verify a signer’s identity when they’re given access to the document.

  • Email address: 📨 signer needs to be logged in to the same email address to which the invitation was sent

  • **Access code:*+ 🔐 one-time passcode supplied by the sender

  • SMS/Phone call: 📲 signer needs to enter a passcode sent via SMS or over a phone call

  • ID verification: 🪪 signer needs to provide a valid government-issued photo ID

  • Knowledge-based: 💡 signer can answer private, personal questions

There are also more advanced levels of ID validity that can be enforced when necessary, according to legal requirements.

How to know if an Electronic Signature app is safe?

Any software that provides e-signature services should keep a strong security approach. 🧐 This needs to include:

  • Security certifications: compliance with regulations, industry standards, and applicable laws

  • Security processes: best practices in security and privacy management, development, and training, both for employees and partners

  • Security audits: regular code-base security audits

  • Platform security: data encryption, access, and transfer

  • Physical security: safe geo-dispersed data centers with redundant systems, firewalls, malware protection, and strictly monitored access

Intermission: 🔎 Find any contract or document without opening them or knowing where they are

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Are Electronic Signatures Legal?

Yes, electronic signatures are legal.

The U.S. government has been using them for over 20 years, and there are many countries around the world that also recognize e-signatures as legally binding.

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act) was passed in 2000 and made electronic signatures just as legally binding as traditional signatures on paper documents, allowing them to be presented as evidence in court. 👩‍⚖️⚖️

For an e-signature to be valid under E-Sign, it needs to comply with:

  • Consent to conduct the transaction electronically ✔️

  • Notice of availability of paper records ✔️

  • Intent to sign ✔️

  • Association of signature with the record ✔️

  • Attribution to the signer ✔️

  • Record retention by either party ✔️

There are some situations where you might not be able to use an electronic signature, though.

For example, you’ll have to use a traditional wet signature instead if you’re signing wills and testamentary trusts, state processes regarding divorce, adoption or other family law, court orders, and further official documents.

Wrapping Up

Electronic signatures are widely used nowadays, and largely accepted in court in many areas. They can be safer than a simple signature on paper, and much more auditable.

However, make sure that you do your research when choosing an electronic signature provider to avoid any concerns in the future.

Have you had any good or bad experiences with e-signatures? Share them with us in the comments!

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