An electronic signature is
|“||a computer data compilation of any symbol or series of symbols executed, adopted, or authorized by an individual to be the legally binding equivalent of the individual's handwritten signature.||”|
|“||[a]ny mark in electronic form associated with an electronic document, applied with the intent to sign the document.||”|
Government Paperwork Elimination Act
An electronic signature is:
|“||a method of signing an electronic message that —
(A) identifies and authenticates a particular person as the source of the electronic message; and (B) indicates such person's approval of the information contained in the electronic message.
An electronic signature is a means of uniquely identifying and (authenticating) the user of a computer to control access or authorize a transaction. Electronic signatures can use several technologies including personal identification numbers, smart cards, biometrics (i.e., digital fingerprints, retinal scans, or voice recognition), or digital signatures (an encrypted set of bits that identify the user).
Electronic signatures can be used for access or control of either stand-alone computers or of Internet-based transactions. The most common electronic signature technology in use today is the digital signature.
U.S. federal government implementation of electronic signatures
Many federal agencies have promulgated policies or regulations on the use of electronic signatures, including:
- Administrative Committee of the Federal Register (1 C.F.R. Part 18.7), electronic signatures on documents submitted for publication in the Federal Register;
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission (17 C.F.R. Part 1.4 and Part 1.3(tt)), electronic signatures for filings
- Environmental Protection Agency (55 Fed. Reg. 31,030 (1990)), policy on electronic reporting;
- Federal Acquisition Regulation (48 C.F.R. Parts 2 and 4), electronic contracts;
- Federal Property Management Regulations (41 C.F.R. Part 101-41), electronic bills of lading.
- Food and Drug Administration (21 C.F.R. Part 11), electronic signatures and records;
- General Services Acquisition Regulation (48 C.F.R. Part 552.216-73), electronic orders
- Internal Revenue Service (Treasury Reg. 301.6061-1), signature alternatives for tax filings;;
- Securities and Exchange Commission (17 C.F.R. Part 232), electronic regulatory filings.