The E-Sign act is a "simple law" with broad implications that companies will have to address, according to a lawyer who spoke at a conference in Washington last week.

While Congress acted wisely when it approved the law that lets online verifications substitute for paper-based signatures, it also posed a challenge to industry by refusing to name the technology or technologies that can be used to conduct the verification, said the lawyer, Margo Tank. Thus, Congress left it up to companies to sort out for themselves what a digital signature should mean, and this could result either in widespread confusion or in broad leeway for banks and other firms.

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