Off the Record: E-Signature Edition

Tune in monthly for a curated collection of articles we found interesting on a broad range of topics; some which are directly related to records management and others which might share common themes.

No, we didn’t write these articles—hence the name of this series, “Off the Record”— but, fortunately, we didn’t need to in order to share the knowledge with our subscribers.

This month the following articles cover the rise in use of electronic signature.

The Law of E-Signatures in the United States and Canada – Baker McKenzie

The use and recognition of electronic signatures as a legally valid mark for documents in electronic format in place of ink/wet signatures has been in practice for more than 20 years. There are also laws at the federal level, which provide structure and requirements for the use of electronic signatures. This article provides a good summary of the nation’s electronic signature laws, explains the functions of the laws as well as how they work to protect the consumers. The article includes a list for the types of documents that are generally classified as exceptions to the rules due to common requirements such as witness verification and wet signatures and might require the more traditional wet signature over the digital.

Implementing Electronic Signature Technologies – National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provides this reference guide to electronic signatures and how it relates to records management cycle. The guide outlines how electronic signatures for federal agencies are maintained and preserved throughout the record lifecycle, accounting for, among other elements, the records reliability, authenticity, and integrity. Although most directly applicable to federal government entities, this guide can be used to inform your entity on approaching electronic signatures, including records management concerns such as technical obsolescence and legal/risk assessment.

Electronic Signatures in the Age of COVID-19 – Kramer Levin

Although electronic signatures emerged as a hot topic of conversation throughout 2020, the practice and use of electronic signatures have been around for twenty years. In recent months, electronic signatures became an essential tool to continue to conduct business in a remote setting. From a practical perspective, many have turned to e-signatures as just another form of wet signatures. This text presents an overview into frequently asked questions regarding the tool: the general uses, what defines an electronic signature, what statutes provide the framework for electronic signatures, and what validates the e-signatures such as intent, consent, and retention. Take a look at the “Practical Pointers and Takeaways” to get the ball rolling on learning and applying knowledge about e-signatures.

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