Digital signatures have been legalized in many countries. But who uses an e-signature today? Not too many people.
In this article, BusinessWeek Magazine writes that the 200,000 members of the National Notary Association have adopted a new system named the Electronic Notary Journal of Official Acts (ENJOA), which plans to broaden the usage of digital signatures in the U.S.
This will let notaries use computer files instead of paper logbooks to record their witnessing of official signings. The $550 ENJOA hardware-software package will save a digital record of the signature along with the notary's records and supporting information on signers, including digital photos and thumbprint scans. The heart of the system is Interlink Electronics' ePad, a device that resembles those used to sign credit card transactions at retailers such as Home Depot but which provides greater protections against forgery. Legal documents themselves remain overwhelmingly paper and will be signed the old-fashioned way. But the ability of software such as Adobe Acrobat to add digital signatures to facsimiles of paper documents means that full electronic signing is not far off.
Here is an image of the Interlink Electronics' ePad device.
The question remains: will this effort more successful that the encrypted signatures or the digital "certificates"? Wildstrom thinks so.
Devices such as the Interlink ePad do a lot more than just capture an image of a signature. They measure both the pressure and velocity of the stylus tip as you sign, which makes forging a signature difficult. Both images of the signature and the collected data can become part of the electronic version of any document signing.
it will probably take some time before that stack of papers you face at a real estate closing will be replaced by a digitally signed electronic document. The rituals of signing documents have their roots in antiquity and won't change quickly. "The speed at which it happens will depend not on the technology, which is already here, but on its acceptance," says Milton G. Valera, president of the National Notary Assn. At last, however, we do seem to be moving forward.
For more information, go the official enjoa website.
Source: Stephen H. Wildstrom, BusinessWeek Magazine, June 2, 2003 Issue
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