Published on March 6, 2009
eSignatures 101: EchoSign and the ESIGN Act ESIGN Act Overview In Oct 2000, the federal ESIGN Act was passed, making electronic signatures legally equivalent to written signatures. The ESIGN Act includes provisions to: • Protect the consumer with appropriate notifications and disclosures • Ensure technological neutrality and universal access • Ensure authentication and privacy • Create legal certainty and protection to prevent fraud • Allow easy document access and record retention EchoSign Compliance As the leading provider of electronic signatures, EchoSign is compliant with the provisions of the ESIGN Act, providing protection for both the sender and the signer during the signing process. Below are the specific aspects of EchoSign’s compliance: Consumer Protection and Notification This provision is designed to protect the signer and conspicuously disclose information to the consumer so they can affirmatively consent to sign using an electronic signature – the notification must be disclosed so that it is timely, clear and conspicuous, and presented in a clear way that is easy to understand. EchoSign notifies the signer that they are being asked to sign using an electronic signature a number of times before they actually e‐sign the document. In addition, EchoSign offers a unique feature that allows the customer to decline signing the contract with an esignature, and allows the signer to print out the contract and sign it with a written signature. The screenshots below demonstrate the three key notification points that EchoSign provides during the signature process. Notification Point #1: Subject line of the email: EchoSign notifies the signer in the email subject line that they can use an electronic signature to sign the document Notification Point #2: Body of the email EchoSign notifies the signer they can use an electronic signature in the body of the email www.echosign.com 877‐ECHOSIGN
Notification Point #3: Point of Signature EchoSign notifies the signer they are using an electronic signature at the point of signature and also offers a clearly marked option to not sign the document at the point of signature. If the user chooses to not esign the document they can simply refuse to sign the document or choose to sign the document with a written, faxed signature. Technology Neutrality and Universal Access The ESIGN Act does not prescribe the use of a particular technology for the transmission of electronic signatures; rather, the Act leaves those choices to the marketplace. However, this provision in the act mandates that the consumer has access to a computer, to the Internet, and to the necessary software required to open the documents. EchoSign uses email as the main form of delivery and authentication for an electronic signature. Users can sign contracts using an email package, any Internet browser, or a mobile device. This ensures the customer has multiple access points to sign the document, and can use the option with which they are most comfortable. This also ensures that the consumer is signing a document in a familiar and secure environment, and is not required to learn a new piece of software to sign a document with an electronic signature. Authentication and Privacy As stated above, EchoSign uses email as the main delivery medium for contracts. This ensures that consumers have the same security when signing documents that they have when accessing their personal or corporate email. In addition, the sender can use a password to protect the contract and communicate this password to the signer (also known as “out of bandwidth” password protection) separately. Legal Certainty and Fraud Protection This provision is aimed at protecting both businesses as well as the consumer. Businesses should be assured that they obtain consent and provide documents in a manner sufficient to make the electronic signature transactions legally valid. Consumers should be protected from businesses changing the terms of the contract. Both parties should have easy access to an electronic trail to confirm the transaction. www.echosign.com 877‐ECHOSIGN
As stated above, and as a means to protect both the sender and the consumer, EchoSign provides ample notification to the signer indicating that an electronic signature is required to sign the document. In addition, during the signature process, the contract can be reviewed by the signer, but cannot be altered –protecting both the signer and the sender from unauthorized changes. EchoSign implements esignatures in a clear, easy to read format (for both parties) which includes a date and time stamp as well as a unique transaction number (see screenshot below). In addition, EchoSign also provides a secure audit trail ‐‐ tracking every step in the signature transaction such as when the contract was sent, when the contract was viewed, and when the contract was signed. This audit trail (see screenshot below), can be automatically attached to the executed contract as a PDF file ensuring that the consumer has a detailed history of the transaction. EchoSign’s electronic signatures are clear and easy to read which protect both the signer and the consumer EchoSign’s detailed history report can be saved as a PDF and emailed to the signer with a copy of the executed contract Document Access and Retention This provision ensures the ability of all parties to easily access contracts and retain records. After the contract has been signed, EchoSign automatically emails the signer and the consumer a copy of the executed contract as an attachment to the email. The executed contract has been converted to a PDF file to prevent changes post execution. In addition, a copy of the executed agreement is stored in the signer’s EchoSign account. In addition, upon request, EchoSign provides executed agreements on a CD. www.echosign.com 877‐ECHOSIGN
Resources • Customer References: EchoSign is in use by companies of all sizes, including public and Fortune 1000 companies such as British Telecomm, Dell, Dun & Bradstreet, Lennar Homes, Network General (a Netscout Company), Qualcomm, Time Warner Cable and many others. We are happy to set up a reference call with our existing customers. • Legal Authority: EchoSign was founded by a lawyer intimately familiar with both federal and state laws regarding e‐signatures. Upon request, we’re happy to set up a call with EchoSign’s legal authority on electronic signatures. • Endorsements: The Association of Corporate Counsel has highlighted EchoSign as a “Comprehensive Signature Automation Solution. Read more here. • Gartner Research: In Nov, 07 Gartner published a report titled: “Findings: The Legal Precedent for eSignatures is a Non‐Issue” with the following summary ‐‐ The effectiveness of a signature solution is not determined by the legal precedent for the acceptance of the signatures. Rather, it depends on good process management, good document control and the maintenance of a clear chain of evidence. To read the report in‐depth please visit www.gartner.com. • Read more about the ESIGN Act here www.echosign.com 877‐ECHOSIGN
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