Electronic signatures means a computer data compilation of any symbol or series of symbols, executed, adopted or authorized by an individual to be legally binding equivalent of the individuals handwritten signature.
The electronic equivalent of a handwritten signature. There is more to it than pasting a graphic of a signature into a text document. Electronic signature software binds a signature, or other mark, to a specific document. Just as experts can detect a paper contract that was altered after it was signed, electronic signature software can detect the alteration of an electronically signed file any time in the future. CIC (
) and Silanis Technology (
) are pioneers of electronic signature technology, which has proven especially relevant in the financial, insurance and real estate industries.
More than a Digital Signature
An electronic signature is often confused with a “digital signature,” because it uses digital signature technology for detection alteration. An electronic signature also requires user authentication such as a digital certificate, smart card or biometric method.
A signature is a stylized script associated with a person. It is comparable to a seal. In commerce and the law, a signature on a document is an indication that the person adopts the intentions recorded in the document. An electronic signature is any legally recognised electronic means that indicates that a person adopts the contents of an electronic message. The U.S. Code defines an electronic signature as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” It may be an electronic transmission of the document which contains the signature, as in the case of facsimile transmissions, or it may be encoded message, such as telegraphy using morse code. Increasingly, encrypted digital signatures are used in e-commerce and in regulatory filings as digital signatures are more secure than a simple generic electronic signature. The concept itself is not new, with common law jurisdictions having recognized telegraph signatures as far back as the mid-19th century and faxed signatures since the 1980s.
Electronic signatures are defined as an electronic sound (e.g., audio files of a person’s voice), symbol (e.g., a graphic representation of a person in JPEG file), or process (e.g., a procedure that conveys assent), attached to or logically associated with a record, and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. An electronic signature is easy to implement, since something as simple as a typed name can serve as one. Consequently, electronic signatures are very problematic with regards to maintaining integrity and security, as there is nothing to prevent one individual from typing another individual’s name. Due to this reality, electronic signatures that do not incorporate additional measures of security (similar to digital signatures, described below) are considered an insecure way of signing documentation.
A digital signature is an electronic signature that can be used to authenticate the identity of the sender of a message or the signer of a document, and can ensure that the contents of the original message or document has been sent is unchanged.