Adobe Applauds Arizona’s Efforts to Advance Electronic Signature Laws
by Dan Puterbaugh
posted on 02-28-2017
Electronic signatures have been around for twenty years, and during that time a multitude of laws have been written to support their use. Governments at all levels are eager to adopt a technology that increases efficiency and cybersecurity while also providing greater convenience to constituents, but despite their desires, confusion around the legality of electronic signatures has sometimes prevented the widespread acceptance in both government and private sectors.
Legislators are rarely technologists, so in some cases the laws in existence don’t distinguish between electronic and digital signatures. In other cases, older laws are no longer relevant in light of e-signature advancements. However, elected officials recognize the need to bring laws at all levels of government into alignment with current business practices and constituent expectations, and as a result, there’s been a lot of activity on this front in recent years—and in many cases, Adobe has worked side-by-side with legislators to clarify important details and provide technical expertise.
Legislators Turn to Adobe
Adobe has been working with legislators to help craft laws that make the most of electronic signature technology. Last year, for instance, we helped the State of California move to make it easier for state agencies to use digital signature technology. Previously, multiple laws existing around electronic signatures, which left government agencies and businesses uncertain of which took precedence, and since no action is less risky than a wrong action, entities chose to simply avoid the use of electronic signatures in their entirety. The California Secretary of State recognized the need to clarify the laws and worked with Adobe to craft AB 2296, a bill that defines a digital signature as a type of electronic signature, and declares that California state agencies can accept whichever type of signature is appropriate for a particular transaction.
In 2015, Adobe supported Hawaii’s commitment to realizing a paperless government. Within ten months of announcing that initiative, the Governor’s Office itself was completely paperless. The Department of Human Resources soon followed, and now other state agencies are making the move as well. These steps forward are made possible by the state’s implementation of a secure electronic signature process across all departments.
The Ripple Effect Reaches Arizona
Now Adobe is pleased to announce that the Arizona Senate unanimously passed SB 1078, which requires state agencies to accept electronic records and electronic signatures. The bill revises legacy requirements for signatures, bringing them up to date and making the rules of the Arizona Department of Administration supersede all others. In addition, SB 1078 expands the definition of electronic signatures to include digital signature and makes related changes to technical requirements.
This law means that businesses and other organizations seeking to bind their transactions with electronic signatures now have a single source of truth they can refer to when determining whether an agreement will stand up against a legal action. This is the sort of reassurance that government agencies and legal professionals need to encourage stakeholders to use electronic signatures without reservation.
Good Electronic Signature Laws are Good Business
States compete with each other to attract businesses. In turn, businesses decide where to invest or relocate by comparing the legal and regulatory environments of different places. The existence of strong electronic signature laws is a key concern for these businesses, and because of that, other states are watching the actions of California, Hawaii, and Arizona and taking another look at their own electronic signature legislation. And Adobe is right there, actively working with governments at all levels to help legislators craft clear laws that make practical sense for their constituents.