THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Friday, June 30,
ELIMINATING BARRIERS TO ELECTRONIC
WHILE PROTECTING CONSUMERS
June 30, 2000
"The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act
will open up new frontiers of economic opportunity while protecting the rights
of American consumers."
President Bill Clinton
Friday, June 30, 2000
Today, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, President Clinton signed
S.761, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. This
legislation will eliminate legal barriers to using electronic technology to
sign contracts; give consumers the same protections while doing business
on-line as they have on paper; and ensure that government agencies have
authority to enforce the law. After the bill signing ceremony, the President
demonstrated the new electronic signature technology that Americans will be
able to use to sign legally binding contracts on-line.
THE BENEFITS OF E-COMMERCE. The U.S.has benefited
dramatically from the onset of the digital age. But there are still barriers -
especially legal uncertainty - to the use of technology for
business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce. Under the legislation
President Clinton signed today:
Companies will be able to contract on-line to buy and sell
Businesses will be able to collect and store transaction records
Consumers will have the option of transacting business on-line,
without waiting for paperwork to be completed.
ELIMINATING LEGAL BARRIERS TO ELECTRONIC COMMERCE.
Companies may be deterred from doing business on-line because of
uncertainty about whether their on-line contracts will be legally enforceable.
The law sometimes requires that contracts documents be written on paper and
signed with pen-and-ink signatures, which can slow down the pace of business.
The new law signed by President Clinton will overcome these barriers by:
Preempting paper requirements. On-line contracts,
signatures, and records will now have the same legal force as their paper
Establishing technology neutrality. In most cases,
requirements that one technology be used over another have been eliminated;
Ensuring accuracy of electronic records. Most electronic
contracts and records will be legally enforceable only if they are in a form
that is capable of being stored and reproduced for later reference.
PROVIDING CHOICE AND PROTECTION FOR CONSUMERS. In
order to achieve the full potential of electronic commerce, consumers must have
confidence that they have the same protections on-line as they have in the
paper world. Today's law:
Gives consumers who do business on-line the same protections they
currently have with paper contracts;
Protects the consumer's right to choose whether or not to use or
accept electronic records, signatures, or contracts;
Requires that consumers affirmatively consent to the use of
electronic notices, records, and contracts; that they be given notice of their
rights; and that the firm verify that the consumer can access electronically
the information to be provided.
PROTECTING TAXPAYERS AND ENFORCING THE LAW. The
government sometimes requires that companies keep or generate voluminous paper
records documenting their transactions. Record retention serves an important
public purpose by allowing agencies to monitor for compliance, protect
taxpayers from fraud and abuse, and enforce the law. In many cases, these same
goals can be met using digital technologies through:
Electronic Record Retention. The Act requires that
agencies allow most records to be retained electronically, but government may
establish standards for electronic records to ensure that compliance with laws
can be determined, taxpayers can be protected, and agency mission can be
Electronic Filing: The Act allows the government to
establish standards and formats for government filings.