SignatureSense - Questions and Answers

Electronic SignaturesYour DocumentsYour OrganisationThe Signing ProcessUsing SignatureSenseAccount and BillingSecurity and ReliabilitySignatory FAQsIntegration and APIWhite Labelling

Electronic Signatures

What is an electronic signature?

Article 2.1 of 'The Electronic Signatures Directive 1999/93/EC' defines an electronic signature as data in electronic form which are attached to, or logically associated with, other electronic data and which serve as a method of authentication.

In non-tech language - an electronic signature is a computerised (rather than paper based) record of an identified individual showing their agreement to something. When using the internet this usually involves the individual firstly identifying themselves (logging in) and then intentionally showing their agreement by following a clear process - like completing an online form or clicking 'I Agree'.

Are there examples electronic signatures already being used?

Most of us apply electronic signatures with ease every day. Some practical examples include:

  • Using a PIN number with your credit card.
  • Clicking 'I Agree' when accepting a website's new Terms and Conditions.
  • Using Internet Banking to make a payment.
  • Taking out a car insurance policy online.
  • Using HMRC's website to file personal or business Tax Returns.
  • Bidding for an item on eBay.

Are electronic signatures legally binding?

Yes. Specific legislation has been passed in the E.U. and U.S. such that business and individuals can benefit from the increased security and efficiency of electronic signatures. The relevant legislation is:

  • In the UK and EU - The Electronic Signatures Directive 1999/93/EC
  • In the U.S. - The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act / 2000

How is the electronic signature linked to an individual?

SignatureSense verifies the identity of each document signatory by issuing a unique secure password via email. Only with this password (or secure password encoded link) can a signatory sign a document.

How is a document actually signed using SignatureSense?

Once the signatory's identity has been verified (using the above method) the signatory follows the on screen instructions to proceed to sign the document. The act of showing agreement to the document is finalised by providing a typed message then clicking the appropriate check boxes and agreement buttons.

This is a similar approach, for example, to issuing a payment instruction with an online banking system. A signatory does not need to try to replicate their 'hand written' signature on screen.

Can our electronic signatures be faked?

Hand written paper-based signatures are pretty easy to copy. Even children can fake their parent's signature or a keen P.A. will often sign documents for their boss. In comparison, electronic signatures are much more secure. With SignatureSense, a signatory's identity must be verified before the document can be viewed and signed.