County gets the e-deed done

Virginia digital signature pilot

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With the click of a mouse, the first electronic deed was transferred and

recorded recently at the Wise County Circuit Court in southwestern Virginia.

Jack Kennedy Jr., the court's clerk, said the Big Stone Gap Housing

Authority recorded the land deed. He said he believed it is the first such

digital document to be recorded in Virginia and possibly the East Coast.

Such transactions were made possible by the Electronic Signatures in

Global and National Commerce Act, or E-Sign, signed this summer by President

Clinton. E-Sign, which is designed to eliminate legal barriers to electronic

commerce, enables people to make legally binding contracts online. Digitally

signed documents carry encrypted codes unique to a specific user.

In addition to being safe, the method is also convenient, according

to Kennedy, who said it practically eliminates the time and effort to physically

record a document. He said the program eventually will extend to sewer and

building permits.

The Wise County project was done in collaboration with Fairfax, Va.-based

Mixnet Corp., a data conversion and Web development company.

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