States Endorse Digital Signature Bill

The nation's governors should be pushing state agencies to accept electronic signatures and should give state technology officials enough room to experiment with different technologies to eliminate the need for paper signatures on electronic commerce deals, according to a report by the National Governors Association.

In an issue brief, NGA urged governors to become proactive in electronic authentication, which clears the way for electronically signed e-commerce transactions. Electronic authentication is crucial to online tax returns, electronic benefits transfers and other government services that traditionally have been tied to paper documents, says the NGA brief, which is available at www.nga.org/Pubs/IssueBriefs/1999/Sum990419DigitalSigs.asp.

Otherwise, NGA found that states are "at the forefront" of the move to establish digital signature programs. NGA noted that 44 states have passed 88 pieces of legislation geared toward recognizing electronic signatures as legally binding. NGA cited a list of state electronic authentication activity, available at www.mbc.com/.

Because individual state efforts vary slightly, NGA also recommends that states participate in cross-state digital signature efforts, such those spearheaded by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (www.nccusl.org/), the Certificate Authority Rating and Trust task force (internetcouncil.nacha.org/CARAT/Default.htm) and the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (ec3.org/).

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