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Electronic Signatures and the Internet Part 1

Apr 27, 2008
The internet has brought about many changes in the way we live and the way we do business. Changes in technology, led to changes in the law to address the need for rules and to clarify gray areas. There are many new statutes which purport to clarify how things are to be done and what is and what is not lawful. This is just the beginning as time goes by there will surely be more and more changes to existing statutes by amendment and by court interpretation.

Of course we cannot sit back and wait and see how things will evolve. We still need to conduct business and live our lives. Statutes do provide some degree of guidance in that they specify what needs to be done for certain things to be legal. The starting point is probably the section on definitions.

California enacted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act to clarify and make it easier for internet commerce to proceed. The California Uniform Electronic Transactions Act begins with definitions. The definitions are as follows:

(a) "Agreement" means the bargain of the parties in fact, as found in their language or inferred from other circumstances and from rules, regulations, and procedures given the effect of agreements under laws otherwise applicable to a particular transaction.

(b) "Automated transaction" means a transaction conducted or performed, in whole or in part, by electronic means or electronic records, in which the acts or records of one or both parties are not reviewed by an individual in the ordinary course in forming a contract, performing under an existing contract, or fulfilling an
obligation required by the transaction.

(c) "Computer program" means a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in an information processing system in order to bring about a certain result.

(d) "Contract" means the total legal obligation resulting from the parties' agreement as affected by this title and other applicable law.
(e) "Electronic" means relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities.

(f) "Electronic agent" means a computer program or an electronic or other automated means used independently to initiate an action or respond to electronic records or performances in whole or in part, without review by an individual.

(g) "Electronic record" means a record created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means.

(h) "Electronic signature" means an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the electronic record.

(i) "Governmental agency" means an executive, legislative, or judicial agency, department, board, commission, authority, institution, or instrumentality of the federal government or of a state or of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of a state.

(j) "Information" means data, text, images, sounds, codes, computer programs, software, data bases, or the like.

(k) "Information processing system" means an electronic system for creating, generating, sending, receiving, storing, displaying, or processing information.

(l) "Person" means an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, governmental agency, public corporation, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(m) "Record" means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

(n) "Security procedure" means a procedure employed for the purpose of verifying that an electronic signature, record, or performance is that of a specific person or for detecting changes or errors in the information in an electronic record. The term includes a procedure that requires the use of algorithms or other codes,
identifying words or numbers, encryption, or callback or other acknowledgment procedures.

(o) "Transaction" means an action or set of actions occurring between two or more persons relating to the conduct of business, commercial, or governmental affairs.

This definitions are not universal, but are more likely than not to be similar to other states definitions and because American law is based on English law is likely to be similar to the laws of Canada, England, and Australia.

Visit the Authors Website for subsequent parts on internet signatures.
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