President Signs Electronic
On June 30,
2000, President Clinton signed into law the Electronic Signatures
in Global and National Commerce Act. It had passed with overwhelming
support from both parties in both Houses.
In an Internet
Webcast the next day, the President said that the almost unlimited
potential in the longest economic expansion in our history is "being
held back, ironically, by old laws written to protect the sanctity
of contracts." These laws require pen-and-ink signatures on paper
documents for contracts to be enforceable.
The new legislation
means that on-line contracts will now have the same legal force
as equivalent paper ones, he said. "Companies will have the legal
certainty they need to invest and expand in electronic commerce.
They will be able not only to purchase products and services on-line,
but to contract to do so. And they could potentially save billions
of dollars by sending and retaining monthly statements and other
records in electronic form. Eventually, vast warehouses of paper
will be replaced by servers the size of VCRs.
will soon enjoy a whole new universe of on-line services. With the
swipe of a smart card and the click of a mouse, they will be able
to finalize mortgages, sign insurance contracts, or open brokerage
"Just as importantly,
the law affords consumers who contract on-line the same kinds of
protections and records, such as financial disclosures, they currently
receive when they sign paper contracts. Consumers will be able to
choose whether to do business and receive records on paper or on-line.
They will have the power to decide if they want to receive notice
and disclosures electronically. It will not be their responsibility,
but the company's, to ensure that the data sent to a consumer can
be read on the consumer's computer. No more e-mail attachments with
agencies will have the authority to enforce the laws, protect the
public interest, and carry out their missions in the electronic
July 1, 2000
Webcast was made from Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.