It becomes Law. Near the end of his second term, President Clinton signes the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (or E-SIGN) on June 30th, 2000. THis act made any documents submitted online or signatures written online are legal and binding and can be used in court as evidence.
Here are some of the important points from the original E-SIGN Act of 2000. Without this law all electronic document readers such as Adobe and signatures and contracts compiled online would not hold in court.
B. Benefits and Burdens to Electronic Commerce
Section 105(b) asks whether Section 101(c)(1)(C)(ii) imposes burdens on e-commerce. While the participants in our study identified some burdens on e-commerce, they also identified several benefits. The commenters identified the following benefits and burdens for e-commerce businesses.
1. Legal certainty and protection
Some commenters noted that the consumer consent provision in Section 101(c)(1)(C)(ii) provides legal certainty in on-line business transactions, and may act as a "safe-harbor" for e-commerce businesses that follow the parameters in the Act. Businesses that implement procedures for complying with Section 101(c)(1)(C)(ii) have some assurance that they have obtained consent and provided electronic documents in a manner sufficient to make the electronic transactions legally valid. In addition, they obtain information to show that the record they provided could be accessed by the consumer.As a result, the consumer consent provision may protect e-commerce businesses from baseless legal claims by providing an electronic or paper document trail of the transaction when disclosures or other records are provided electronically to consumers.
2. Technological neutrality
Most commenters agreed that Section 101(c)(1)(C)(ii) is technology-neutral, providing businesses the flexibility to design computer applications that fit their unique needs, and allowing the technology and electronic commerce marketplace to decide which technologies will be most appropriate. Many on-line businesses praised the technology-neutral language, and said that technology, rather than legislation, can solve future problems concerning technical compatibility.
The commenters also noted that, because ESIGN contains broad parameters for obtaining or structuring consumer consent (including demonstrating ability to access the information), businesses have greater flexibility when implementing new practices and procedures to conduct electronic transactions or comply electronically with federal or state laws and regulations. Thus, brick-and-mortar businesses may be more willing to adopt electronic methods to attract new customers and transact business electronically.
However, the commenters expressed some concern that Section 101(c)(1)(C)(ii) would cause firms to favor certain technologies over others that might actually be better for providing notices to consumers.There also was concern that the consumer consent procedure - while it might benefit consumers by encouraging the development of a common format - would lead firms to stay with existing technologies rather than shift to new technologies because of the need to repeat the process of obtaining consumer consent for any new technology.
E-Sign Act http://www.ftc.gov/os/2001/06/esign7.htm