Sussex County Delaware

Digital Signatures
Now Legal in Delaware

E-Commerce ...

Law Designed to
Promote E-Commerce

A bill providing a legal framework for digital signatures and enforceable electronic contracts in the state of Delaware was signed into law by Gov. Thomas R. Carper on Friday, July 14, 2000.

Gov. Carper said House Bill 492, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, will advance Delaware's e-commerce opportunities and position the state for the rapidly growing digital economy.

"The primary purpose of this act is to remove the perceived barriers that exist with electronic commerce," Gov. Carper said of the bill sponsored by Sen. Thomas B. Sharp (D-Pinecrest) and Rep. Nancy H. Wagner (R-Dover).

"Delaware is further laying the groundwork for e-commerce and this legislation ensures that electronic transactions are treated legally on a par with paper transactions."

A digital signature is an encoded electronic signature that can be used by someone to validate a message sender's identity or to authenticate the signer of a document. Gov. Carper used the Digital Notary Service from to digitally notarize H.B. 492.

Gov. Carper said the UETA legislation, developed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, was needed because the Uniform Commercial Code governing traditional commercial transactions did not adequately cover all of the factors involved in electronic transactions.

The UCC was created before the Internet era and before firms began conducting business on the World Wide Web.

The bill also provides for the use of a digital notary similar to the technology utilized during the bill signing. The notary records the transaction by authenticating the content and the specific date and time of the transaction.

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