House passes digital signature bill
January 31, 2000
By CNN Correspondent Rusty Dornin
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) - Forget pen and paper. In the 21st century, signing your John Hancock could be a mouse-click away.
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow U.S. consumers to electronically sign their name over the Internet.
"You're going to buy a mortgage, or a house, or an automobile; this would be valuable," said Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.).
In California, as of January 1, a mouse click is all that's needed to electronically sign numerous documents, excluding wills and trusts.
Consumer groups in the state have fought to keep paper in the picture under the new law, requiring companies to follow up foreclosures and other important correspondence with paper copies. The national version of the bill, however, doesn't require a paper trail.
"The legal obligation is fulfilled when they e-mail it to you," said Gail Hillebrand of the U.S. Consumers Union. "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."
E-commerce advocates claim the same risks apply with paper copies.
"You sign a paper thing and it gets lost in the mail. Those things rarely happen, but they can happen and then you have to go back and start over," Rep. Bliley said.
For Colin Lynch's property management business, getting rid of the paper pile-up will be a welcome boost.
"We're going to have applications right through the lease all along the Web and people will be able to log on and give them their signature," Lynch said.
At E-Coverage, you can sign for car insurance online. The company will then send you a paper policy as backup, but the company says that may change as more people get comfortable with e-commerce.
"Over time that may not become necessary," said Scott Kauffman, spokesman for E-Coverage. "The comfort level with receiving your e-mail getting the transaction back and forth obviates the need for that process."
Congress will hammer out the final version over the next few months, and signing on the dotted line may soon become a thing of the past.
House rejects measure for electronic signatures
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.