Electronic Signature

Signature is a stylized script associated with a person. It is comparable to a seal. In commerce and the law, a signature on a document is an indication that the person adopts the intentions recorded in the document. An electronic signature is any legally recognized electronic means that indicates that a person adopts the contents of an electronic message. The U.S. Code defines an electronic signature as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record". It may be an electronic transmission of the document which contains the signature, as in the case of facsimile transmissions, or it may be encoded message, such as telegraphy using morse code. Increasingly, encrypted digital signatures are used in e-commerce and in regulatory filings as digital signatures are more secure than a simple generic electronic signature. The concept itself is not new, with common law jurisdictions having recognized telegraph signatures as far back as the mid-19th century and faxed signatures since the 1980s.

In many countries, including the United States, the European Union and Australia, electronic signatures (when recognized under the law of each jurisdiction) have the same legal consequences as the more traditional forms of executing of documents.

Difference between Electronic Signatures and Digital Signatures

There is a clear difference between digital and electronic signatures, though these terms are often used interchangeably. The digital signatures (also known as Advanced or Secure Electronic Signatures) use cryptographic techniques. They are based on industry standard known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which guarantees data integrity and non-repudiation of documents and transactions. The digital signature cannot be copied, tampered or altered.

While an Electronic signature is just a representation of a person in the form of an electronic image of the handwritten signature, symbol, voiceprint, etc. It can be copied or tampered with.