As of 3:37 pm Mountain Standard Time on Thursday, February 24, 2011, S.B. 55, which would require each state agency in Utah to go through a formal rule-making process before it could accept electronic signatures, is still “circled” on the legislative calendar there, meaning that it is on hold until further notice.
According to Leslie McLean, Manager of Senate Services, “they’re still working on it.” She said she didn’t “know if they’re amending it or substituting it.” She said what would be done with the bill was entirely up to its sponsor, Utah State Senator Stephen Urquhart.
Meanwhile, another leading electronic signature industry executive has commented on this proposed law. Ken Moyle, Chief Legal Officer at DocuSign told Etopia News today that he finds S.B. 55 “disappointing.” He said that passage of that bill into law would “have the effect of holding up electronic transactions in regulated industries in Utah until the secretary of state got around to adopting rules. That runs counter to the whole intent of UETA and ESIGN.”
UETA is the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, currently in place in 47 U.S. states, including Utah. ESIGN is the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, which, according to Wikipedia, is intended “to facilitate the use of electronic records and signatures in interstate and foreign commerce by ensuring the validity and legal effect of contracts entered into electronically.”
He was fulsome in his praise for the Utah Supreme Court’s decision in Anderson v. Bell, which S.B. 55 would overturn, calling it “eloquent” and “brilliant.” He said that “The eloquence is in the way the Court concisely dispelled the myth that a pen and paper document was somehow self-authenticating; the brilliance was in the way the Court interpreted the UETA to require state agencies to demonstrate the need for paper on an exception basis, rather than allowing them to hold up e-commerce until they get around to adopting rules.”
Mr. Moyle was also supportive of efforts in Nebraska to pass LB 566, which would allow Nebraskans to electronically sign initiative, referendum, and recall petitions online, calling it a “positive” development. “They want to affirmatively say that they support ESIGN. That makes sense.” It was, he said, a way of “saying that we really mean it” when it comes to the acceptance of electronic signatures.
Apologizing for the use of what is by now a somewhat hackneyed term, Mr. Moyle referred to the “paradigm shift” involved in the transition to the routine acceptance and use of electronic signatures. He agreed with Thomas Kuhn’s contention in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (published in 1962) that this transition would only fully take place as new people come to power in the institutions undergoing this change.
Moyle said that young people more familiar with new technology coming to fill positions in various sectors of the economy brings about a “tipping point” in the adoption of a new way of looking at things. He said that such a tipping point was now being reached in the financial services sector and that the governmental and judicial sectors “were getting there.”