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Electronic Signatures in International Contracts

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Carolina Monica Laborde

Electronic signature legislation seeks to facilitate e-commerce by providing an electronic equivalent to handwritten signatures in paper-based contracts. However, electronic signature legislation enacted in the past years in different jurisdictions has followed a dissimilar approach. In light thereof, this book analyzes the legal validity of electronic signatures in international contracts potentially subject to divergent electronic signature regulation. To this end, four major issues are addressed: the technological and legal concept of electronic signatures; the legal regulation of electronic signatures; the determination of the electronic signature legislation that will be applicable to an international contract; and, finally, the implications of applying one electronic signature law or another. The research covers the laws of Argentina, Germany and the United States of America as well as international conventions.

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C. Conclusions 131

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Chapter 6: The work of national and international institutions 131 to the issue of electronic authentication. One of the studies prepared by this working group is “An Analysis of International Electronic and Digital Signature Implementation Initiatives”. The study was published in the year 2000 when the electronic legislation was booming and presents a synthesis of the legislative situation per country until then. The conclusions of the study were not promising. It is argued that the approaches taken by national legislation are sometimes so divergent that they might put at stake the application of electronic signatures in international cases.388 Also, public key infrastructure is the predominant technology even in statutes which claim to be technology neutral.389 III. American Bar Association The American Bar Association (ABA) issued two documents relating to digital signatures: The Digital Signature Guidelines in the year 1996 and the PKI Assessment Guideline in the year 2003. The Digital Signature Guidelines focus on the functioning of digital signatures and explain their concept, functions and general principles.390 The PKI Assessment Guideline deals with public key infrastructure in a more extended way as well as covers other topics of an electronic transaction such as governing law and consumer protection. Both texts are based on digital signatures and public key infrastructure. C. Conclusions Organizations of different nature have sought to further the discussion of topics related to the legal aspects of electronic signatures as well as to promote the legal regulation of electronic signatures. The main concern addressed by international institutions is...

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