Digital Signatures and the UETA / ESIGN Act

Legislation permitting and outlining the legal use of electronic signatures have been passed in several countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and other members of the EU. At WellnessLiving, we go above and beyond these regulations to ensure the legality, reliability, and security of every electronic signature created, captured, and stored by your business.

For more information about digital signatures, see Digital signatures.

About the UETA and ESIGN Act

WellnessLiving is compliant with the UETA and ESIGN Act and their requirements. United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act was passed in 2000. It is a federal law which grants legal recognition to electronic signatures and records if all involved parties agree to use electronic documents and sign them electronically.

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was passed in 1999 and has been adopted by 47 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Among other things, the UETA provides that, when the involved parties agree to proceed electronically, an electronic record or an electronic signature can satisfy the requirement when a law requires either a writing or a signature.

Together, the UETA and ESIGN Act established the legal use of electronic records and electronic signatures in commerce, giving these electronic versions the same credibility as their traditional paper counterparts. Two major points provided by both laws established this legal recognition:

  1. No contract, signature, or record shall be denied legal effect solely because it is in electronic form
  2. A contract relating to a transaction cannot be denied legal effect solely because an electronic signature or record was used in its formation

Laws relating to electronic signatures in most countries will outline specific types of documents or categories of documents for which electronic signatures should not be used. Consult with legal counsel to identify categories of exclusion in your country. Common categories include wills and trusts, powers of attorney, and declarations given under oath.

Major Requirements

To recognize an electronic signature under U.S. law, the signature must adhere to four major requirements outlined in both the UETA and the ESIGN Act. These four requirements are:

  1. Intent to sign
    1. Like traditional signatures, electronic signatures are only valid if each party intended to sign.
  2. Consent to do business electronically
    1. All parties involved in the transaction must consent to do business electronically. A business’s consent can be established through analysis of the circumstances of the interaction. A consumer’s consent can only be established when the consumer has:
      • Received UETA Consumer Consent Disclosures
      • Affirmatively agreed to use electronic records for the transaction
      • Has not withdrawn such consent
  3. Association of signature with the record
    1. The system used to capture the transaction must create a related record that includes either the process used to capture the signature, a text statement that proves the transaction was executed with an electronic signature, or a graphic statement that proves the transaction was executed with an electronic signature.
  4. Record retention
    1. Records created for each transaction must be retained and accurate reproductions of all records must be available for all parties to reference or retain.

Certificate of Completion

Each certificate includes:

  • The name of each signatory
  • A history of authentication
  • The created digital signatures
  • The related email addresses
  • The IP addresses of each signatory
  • The document’s chain of custody (i.e., sent, viewed, signed, etc.)
  • Timestamps for each signature
  • Geolocation capture of each signatory (if provided)
  • Completion status

Who signed what? Where and when did they sign it?

With WellnessLiving, you get more than the bare minimum requirements for electronic signatures; you also can offer proof of who signed a document, which document was signed, the IP address where the document was signed, and the date that the document was signed. This improved level of attribution and record integrity will allow you to have even greater faith in your electronic records.

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