Electronic Signatures On Contracts: Are They Truly Compliant
As companies move to work-from-home situations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of whether electronic signatures are legally recognized becomes more relevant. For many platforms, an electronic signature merely requires logging in, clicking a button, or typing your name. This process, which replaces the mighty pen and quill, is so effortless that oftentimes an electronic signature may feel like it does not carry the same weight as a handwritten signature. Thus, the question that we should be asking ourselves is whether the law recognizes this type of signature as being valid? Additionally, if electronic signatures are, indeed, valid, are there exceptions on whether they can be used?
Difference Between “Electronic” And “Digital” Signatures
Before delving into this issue, an understanding of some related terms may be helpful. In basic terms, an electronic signature (or “e-signature”) is any signature created or captured through a computer or other electronic device. Electronic signatures can include touch-sensitive screens where you use your finger or a stylus to sign your name as you would on a paper document. Electronic signatures can also include forms where you merely type in your name and perhaps other identifying information, then check a box stating that you intend to sign the document. They cover the full range of technologies and solutions to create signatures electronically such as:
- Clicking “I Agree” on a website;
- Signing with your finger on a mobile device;
- Typing your name or PIN into an online form; or
- Using e-signature software