Electronic signatures in internet transactions became legally enforceable in the US with the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act on 1 October.
The law does not set any minimum standards for authentification, protection or security, and analysts expect consumers to lag some way behind the legal framework.
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As well as consumer mistrust, the immaturity of verification technology is holding back secure e-commerce. An electronic signature is unique to an individual user.
The associated software can detect the alteration of an electronically-signed file by unauthorised users.
However, a means of verification is necessary to ensure the signature is originated by the authorised individual.
Electronic signatures became legal in the UK with the Passing of the Electronic Communications Act by Parliament in May.