House of Representatives Signs on Digital Line

    Date31 Jan 2000
    CategoryCryptography
    7227
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    If you're anything like me, you probably hate having to sign things. I can certainly type far faster than I can write by hand, a habit which has reduced my signature to something akin to two squiggly lines. . . . If you're anything like me, you probably hate having to sign things. I can certainly type far faster than I can write by hand, a habit which has reduced my signature to something akin to two squiggly lines. The good news then, is that the House of Representatives has approved a Bill that would allow US consumers to electronically sign their names over the Internet, removing the need for handwritten signatures.

    In California, as of January 1st of this year, you can legally sign a number of documents electronically (wills and trusts are excluded). The national version of the bill does not require any form of paper trail (in California companies still have to follow up certain important correspondeces with paper).

    According to Gail Hillebrand of the U.S. Consumers Union, "The legal obligation is fulfilled when they e-mail it to you, but they do not have to have proof that you received it, and they don't have to have proof that you opened it or it got to you in some form."

    The security implications of legalized digital signatures are significant. The concept certainly is nothing new, the ability to sign a digital document with a PGP signature has been around for a number of years. Of course, taking digital signatures into the realm of things like signing up for credit cards and loans is definately new territory. There will eventually need to be some formalized method of signing documents, authenticated those signatures and keeping others from being able to forge them.
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