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Sign On The Digital Line

E-signatures are now legally binding. Why should you care?

This story appears in the April 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When the E-Sign Act became law last year, it created myriad possibilities for the use of digital signatures in contracts. The act makes legally binding everything from signing e-mails to the online closing of mortgages. It's been pegged as a boon to e-commerce and a way to cut back on paperwork. Now companies are scrambling to release e-signature technology to consumers and businesses, giving you a variety of options to choose from.

A lot of security concerns revolve around e-mail, but the ability to authenticate electronic transactions will soon allay those concerns. On Sign offers free downloadable software that allows a digital signature to be attached to a Microsoft Word document or an Outlook/Outlook Express e-mail. Any unauthorized alteration of the document invalidates the encrypted signature. Other companies with different methods and more advanced paid services include VeriSign and iLumin.

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