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Sign On The Digital Line E-signatures are now legally binding. Why should you care?

By Amanda C. Kooser

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

A lot of security concerns revolve around e-mail, but theability to authenticate electronic transactions will soon allaythose concerns. On Sign offersfree downloadable software that allows a digital signature to beattached to a Microsoft Word document or an Outlook/Outlook Expresse-mail. Any unauthorized alteration of the document invalidates theencrypted signature. Other companies with different methods andmore advanced paid services include VeriSign and iLumin.

Another approach to digital signatures features the use ofbiometrics. Retina, finger, voice and face scans qualify under theE-Sign Act. Communication IntelligenceCorp. offers a less exotic version of biometric signatureauthentication with its Sign-it product family. The Sign-itsoftware works in conjunction with a signature-capture device, likea graphics tablet, and Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word. Sign-itverifies the user's signature and attaches it to the Acrobat orWord file so that it can be securely sent.

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