Newsflash! Electronic Signatures Deemed Legal …146 Years Ago!

January 6, 2015

b2ap3_thumbnail_e_signature_400.jpgWhat’s so special about a physical signature created with pen and paper? If it’s an autograph from your favorite celebrity, then you’ve got something special. Other than that, there’s no reason why an electronic signature can’t get the job done in today’s hi-tech business world.

It’s 2015, and the outdated need for physical signatures appears to be the final barrier keeping us from enjoying a technological utopia of offices without paper and flying cars that don’t need roads. It may be the case that organizations enact policies requiring a physical signature because they think it will hold some weight over electronic signatures in legal proceedings, but this simply isn’t the case. As determined by the New Hampshire Supreme Court in Eighteen A-Full-Century-Before-the-Moon-Landing-And-When-Mutton-Chops-Were-All-The-Rage Sixty Nine. From the case Howley v. Whipple:

It makes no difference whether [the telegraph] operator writes the offer or the acceptance in the presence of his principal and by his express direction, with a steel pen an inch long attached to an ordinary penholder, or whether his pen be a copper wire a thousand miles long. In either case the thought is communicated to the paper by the use of the finger resting upon the pen; nor does it make any difference that in one case common record ink is used, while in the other case a more subtle fluid, known as electricity, performs the same office.

Almost 150 years later and our electronic signatures travel wirelessly, thousands upon thousands of miles from one device to another via satellite. Additionally, as recognized by forward-thinking New Hampshire and every developed-yet-lacking-flying-cars nation in our modern world, electronic signatures are totally legit.

Now, back to our opening question: “What’s so special about a physical signature?” Why in the world do some entities require you to go through the hassle of inking your John Hancock on a piece of paper? If the written signature has a special power, then would one’s scribbles hold even more legal weight if it were recorded with a quill like the United States Constitution, or etched upon parchment like the ancient scriptures? The next time your law office requires a physical signature of you, send them a message by faxing it upon a piece of papyrus.

An organization that will accept a digitized version of your signature, but not a signature from a secure document signing service, is making operations harder than they need to be. If you have to send a signed contract via email, then you’re looking at an easy half-hour of downtime just to record your name:

  • Open your inbox and download the document.
  • Print the document (and hope that the paper and ink levels are good to go).
  • Locate your favorite pen and sign the document, being sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s.
  • Scan the signed document.
  • Convert the file into a PDF.
  • Attach the signed PDF to the email and send it.

Just because there still exists businesses that demand an inked signature, doesn’t mean that your company has to abide by a requirement deemed obsolete when U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant was in office. CTN Solutions can equip your business with legal electronic signature solutions that can make signing a digital contract quick and easy.

On a related matter, if we go even further back to 1843, this is when the fax machine was first patented by Alexander Bain. Does your business still use one of these steam-powered machines? CTN Solutions can assist you with upgrading from this ancient technology by digitizing all of your sent and received faxes with our fax server solution.

Contact us today at (610) 828- 5500 to learn more, because you shouldn’t have to sign the dotted line for your new flying car with a ballpoint pen!

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