In what is being called the most important piece of E-commerce legislation to pass in this session of Congress, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (S. 761), also known as the “E-Sign Act,” has been passed in the House of Representatives. A favorable vote is soon expected in the Senate, while President Clinton has stated he would sign the bill into law. The E-Sign Act would have a broad impact on E-commerce industries, including banks, insurance companies, brokerages, investments companies, mortgage companies, credit card companies, retailers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and technology companies.

The most important aspects of the legislation are: 1) giving recognition and effect to electronic signatures, contracts and records uniformly throughout the United States; 2) authorizing so-called “digital signatures” as well as empowering the broad use of on-line contracting and provision of notices, thereby facilitating billions of dollars in business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce, as written signatures and paper notices will no longer be required.

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