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What is Electronic Signature?

By: Daryl Bernstein / Thursday, March 17, 2011


Electronic signature, e-signature, digital signature, online signature ... we often hear these terms tossed about as if they were interchangeable. As more and more businesses go paperless, the efficiency of getting documents executed on RightSignature is an increasingly popular topic of conversation around the water cooler. But what's the correct term to use when you want to tell a friend about RightSignature?

We thought a simple dictionary would help clarify the lingo of online document signing:

Electronic Signature
Technically, an electronic signature is any kind of electronic indication of consent or approval. Examples of casual, but not always legally defensible, electronic signatures include sending an email including the phrase "Sure, I agree to your proposal" or clicking a button that says "I agree." The most robust, defensible electronic signatures, such as those captured on RightSignature, include identity authentication, audit logs, security and encryption features, and biometric (hand-drawn) signatures.

E-Signature
The term e-signature, or esignature (if you're not a fan of dashes), is a common abbreviation of the longer term electronic signature and has the same meaning.

Digital Signature
A digital signature is a digital "stamp" that contains data which is unique to the individual who places it on a document or file. Unlike the mark left by a rubber stamp, this digital stamp is usually hidden in computer code and not visible on the document. A digital signature is placed on a document or file by the "signer" to indicate consent or agreement, or simply to prove that the signer created or modified the file. It assures that any changes made to the data that has been "signed" with the digital signature cannot go undetected.

Online Signature
The term online signature is colloquial and describes any kind of signature created online. It does not imply any criteria for authentication, security, or defensibility.

RightSignature™
Still wondering which term to use or which technology is best for your business? There's a simple solution: RightSignature. Documents executed on RightSignature contain the most critical elements of both electronic signatures and digital signatures. Most importantly, RightSignature is easy to use for both senders and signers, and RightSignature documents have the same legal validity as pen-and-paper documents. If you're not already using RightSignature in your business, sign up for a free trial today.

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