The digital revolution took another giant step forward this year when Congress signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act into law. This law provides that an electronic signature entered over the Internet has the same legal force and effect as a traditional signature.
In defining digital signatures and how they work, it is helpful to begin by clarifying what they are not. A digital signature is not a digitized image of a handwritten signature. We are all familiar with the electronic pad a person signs upon receiving a package from a delivery service. In these cases, the handwritten signature is digitized, and the image transferred to the electronic document. Once captured, these digitized signatures can be cut and pasted onto any electronic document, making forgery a simple matter.
Digital signatures, on the other hand, are an actual transformation of an electronic message using public key cryptography. Through this process, the digital signature is tied to the document being signed, as well as to the signer and, therefore, cannot be reproduced. Now, a legally binding contract may be formed over the Internet by two parties who have never met, without requiring notarization. This will radically alter the way business is conducted and accelerate the already rapid adoption of electronic commerce.
With the passage of laws regarding digital signatures, it is no longer an option for your company to sit back and continue to conduct business as usual or embrace the new technologies surrounding e-commerce and e-business. For example, in this issue, we discuss why banks that ignore mobile technologies do so at their own peril with the article "Walking on a Wire" and also discuss a critical aspect regarding the protection of data in the article "Data Warehousing: A Security Perspective."
As always, thanks for reading DM Review.
Ron Powell, Publisher