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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.[1]
[a]ny mark in electronic form associated with an electronic document, applied with the intent to sign the document.[2]

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.[3]


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:


  1. 21 C.F.R., Part 11, §11.3(7).
  2. NICCS, Explore Terms: A Glossary of Common Cybersecurity Terminology (full-text).
  3. Government Paperwork Elimination Act §1709(1)).