E-signatures to spur economic growth

Will electronic signatures be as valid as their ink counterparts?PHILADELPHIA, July 3 (MaxisNet) - President Clinton, speaking in an address broadcast only on the Internet, said a new law making electronic signatures as valid as their ink counterparts would spur economic growth.

Will electronic signatures be as valid as their ink counterparts?

PHILADELPHIA, July 3 (MaxisNet) - President Clinton, speaking in an address broadcast only on the Internet, said a new law making electronic signatures as valid as their ink counterparts would spur economic growth.

In his second weekly Web cast, Clinton said from Philadelphia that the e-signature law that he signed on Friday had far-reaching positive ramifications for the economy.

"This new law will give fresh momentum to what is already the longest economic expansion in our history, an expansion driven largely by the phenomenal growth in information technologies, particularly the Internet, with its almost unlimited potential to expand their opportunities and broaden their horizons," Clinton said.

Clinton said James Madison, the country's fourth president, called the contract clause of the Constitution a "bulwark in favour of personal security and private rights," one that was expanded with the e-signature law.

"Under this landmark new legislation, on-line contracts will now have the same legal force as equivalent paper ones," Clinton said.

"Companies will have the legal certainty they need to invest and expand in electronic commerce. They will be able not only to purchase products and services on-line, but to contract to do so."

To sign the bill on Friday, Clinton used a smart card encoded with numbers and, in case that caused any legal problems, also a pen. The signing took place on the grounds where the Declaration of Independence was signed with a quill pen.

The new bill is officially known as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, and eliminates legal barriers to using electronic technology to form and sign contracts, collect and store documents and send and receive notices and disclosures.

Clinton said firms could potentially save billions of dollars by sending and retaining monthly statements and other records in electronic form. "Eventually, vast warehouses of paper will be replaced by servers the size of VCRs," Clinton said.

"Customers will soon enjoy a whole new universe of on-line services. With the swipe of a smart card and the click of a mouse, they will be able to finalise mortgages, sign insurance contracts or open brokerage accounts."

The president said the law also gives on-line signers the same protections and records, such as financial disclosures, currently received when they sign paper contracts

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