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U.S. Senate Passes Electronic Signatures Bill

Tax-news.com

22 November 1999


The United States Senate has passed a bill that recognises the legality of contracts signed electronically. The bill creates a minimum standard for electronic signatures, which it is expected will be supplemented by State legislation. While the Bill is similar to one passed by Congress on 9 November, there are a number of differences that will need to be resolved before the bill(s) can become law. The main difference between them is that the bill passed by Congress also recognises the legality of electronic records - a measure that has been fiercely opposed by consumer groups and the Democrats.

However, the two bills are more consistent on the legality of electronic signatures. "This bill assures that a company will be able to rely on an electronic contract and that another party will not be able to escape their contractual obligations simply because the contract was signed electronically," said Republican Senator Spencer Abraham, who sponsored the bill.

"E-commerce between businesses has grown to an estimated $64.8 billion for 1999," Abraham said. "Ten million customers shopped for some product using the Internet in 1998 alone. And 5.3 million households had access to financial transactions like electronic banking and stock trading by the end of 1999."

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