Clinton Signs Electronic Signature Bill — Quoting James Madison, who called the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution "a constitutional bulwark in favor of personal security and private rights," President Clinton last week signed into law the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. Clinton first signed the paper bill in ink (as is required for federal legislation), then symbolically affixed an electronic signature by inserting a digitally encoded card into a computer and typing a password, "Buddy." (No one told the President that using a pet’s name as a password is lousy security.) Clinton went on to say that the new law "gives fresh momentum to what is already the longest economic expansion in our history" by enabling online commerce in the U.S. to take place without the delay of waiting for signatures on paper – online mortgages and other contracts have still required paper documents, even if all other steps are handled electronically. The legislation gives electronic contracts the same legal force as paper contracts and doesn’t favor any one technology. The electronic signature provision of the law goes into effect on 01-Oct-00, and electronic record-keeping (where record-keeping is required by federal law, such as mortgages and financial securities documents) will be permitted starting 01-Mar-01. [MHA]
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