Congress Debates Digital Signatures

June 14, 2000

The E-SIGN Act, which could make digital signatures just as legal as written ones, is up for final approval in Congress. If approved, the legislation would become effective in October, requiring the establishment of a uniform national standard for transactions otherwise requiring written signatures.

Critics of the legislation say consumer protections for paper transactions will be weakened by digital signatures. But proponents say it’s safer than paper. Digital signature identifying information is embedded in a computer file sent on disk for installation in the user’s computer browser.

Recipients of electronic documents must have compatible software in order to verify the sender’s true identity. And the encryption eliminates the possibility for tampering or forging documents.

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