The Internet, EDI, and e-mail are new channels to enter into commercial agreements. The formal validity of these contracts is subject to the same rules applied to paper contracts; therefore, electronic contracts may need to be in writing and signed. For this reason it has been necessary to develop a functional equivalent to handwritten signatures to be used in electronic transactions. The handwritten signature is a means of establishing the identity of a person and also the traditional means by which a person expresses his or her intention in written documents. The electronic world uses different methods (based on different technologies) to establish the identity of a person. When these methods are combined with the intention to sign the law recognizes the existence of a valid signature. The different methods to sign electronically offer dissimilar levels of reliability as well as of complexity. Some laws recognize only methods ensuring the highest authenticity security, which currently are those based on public key cryptography. Other laws do not address the technological issue recognizing all types of electronic signatures. Due to the nature of electronic commerce it has been perceived that uniform standards for the recognition of electronic signatures would pave the way for the execution of online contracts. Nevertheless, right from the beginning the legal approach to the regulation of electronic signatures in different jurisdictions has been divergent. The first disagreement concerns what is understood under the term electronic signature. UETA and E-Sign present a single concept of electronic signature; the Electronic...
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