Abstract

THE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE ACT OF 1996: BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO WIDESPREAD ELECTRONIC COMMERCE IN FLORIDA

WILLIAM E. WYROUGH, JR.[*] AND RON KLEIN[**]

Copyright 1997 Florida State University Law Review

The current information revolution has seen an increasing number of people using computers to exchange all types of information. Electronic commerce makes it possible to replace paper forms and documents with their electronic equivalents for many types of activities. A major concern when making the transition from a paper-based commercial environment to an electronic system of commerce is the effect that replacing written signatures may have upon the reliability and legality of transactions. New technologies are making it possible to use electronic signatures to authenticate and preserve the integrity of transactions and documents.

This Article examines the issues associated with making the transition to electronic commerce via the use of electronic signatures and discusses Florida's Electronic Signature Act of 1996. Part II discusses both electronic commerce and its concomitant security issues to provide a better understanding of the significance of electronic signatures. Part III discusses the history of traditional signatures and their legal importance, and provides a brief introduction to electronic signatures. Part IV examines the development of a type of electronic signature called a "digital signature." Part V highlights the conclusions and recommendations of the Joint Committee on Information Technology Resources that formed the basis of the electronic signature legislation. Part VI describes the Electronic Signature Act of 1996, discusses its enactment, and analyzes its possible effect.


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