Law smoothing way for e-gov
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Apr 19, 2001
Montana has become the latest state to enact a law that gives electronic
documents the same legal weight as paper documents, paving the way for online
Gayle Shirley, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said a procedural
statute called the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which was
incorporated in the state law, would "smooth the road" for e-government
"I do know that the state of Montana is creating a portal for e-government
services so that a lot more transactions between business and government
and government and the public can occur," she said. She guessed that the
state site would be revamped within a year.
In addition to authorizing state governments to create, send, receive and
store records electronically, UETA allows for the use of electronic records
and signatures, ensures that transactions are not denied enforcement because
they were conducted electronically, ensures that courts can accept such
records as evidence, and establishes a way to notarize a document electronically.
Gov. Judy Martz signed Montana's law electronically March 16 after it unanimously
passed both legislative chambers. The law will take effect July 1.
In all, 29 states have adopted UETA, and 15 more states and Washington,
D.C., have introduced the bill or are considering it.
UETA is more far-reaching than the Electronic Signatures in Global and National
Commerce Act, commonly known as E-Sign, which was signed into law last summer
by President Clinton. E-Sign only authenticates electronic signatures and
records in interstate or foreign commercial transactions but excludes government
procurement and contracts.