The digital certificate company Verisign Inc. became the first licensed certification authority under rules that recently took effect in California.

The event was marked Oct. 14 at Verisign headquarters, where California Secretary of State Bill Jones digitally signed a certificate. Digital signatures, now in accordance with a state statute, authenticate transactions and guard against improper repudiation by the parties involved.

"Verisign was the first certification authority to satisfy the regulation's audit and compliance requirements," Mr. Jones said. "Now, virtually any transaction that requires a signature can be replicated electronically over the Internet.

"This means that digital certificates and corresponding digital signatures can be used for on-line college applications, filing state income tax forms, or applying for business permits at the local level."

Verisign president and chief executive officer Stratton Sclavos said the technology can "improve the ways (governments) interact with their constituents, reduce their costs, and ultimately establish better relationships with citizens."

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