If your business’s legal health depends on signed agreements with clients – we’re looking at you, healthcare organizations, law firms, financial service providers – you know the federal E-Sign ACT gives electronically signed contracts the same legal status as those signed on paper. But what you might not know is that the law does not treat all electronic contracts equally. Understanding these distinctions should influence the e-signature app you choose.
Imagining the worst
Let’s play out the type of hypothetical that’s probably leading you to research electronic-signature solutions in the first place. Imagine your company finds itself in a legal dispute with a client (or patient) over the validity of a signed agreement. You will need to prove not only that you have the electronically signed document, but also that:
- The electronic contract you’re presenting as evidence has remained in its original form, neither modified nor tampered with, from the moment it was signed;
- Your signer intended to enter into the agreement and create a legal-binding signature;
- You obtained the signer’s consent to use the electronic signature solution;
- The signature is authentic, meaning it does in fact come from the signer.
If the e-signature solution you used to secure the signed agreement doesn’t allow you to meet any of these (or other) conditions, you might not be able to legally enforce the contract.
Not all technologies used to secure e-records are created equal
To satisfy the above elements of the E-Sign Act (signer’s affirmative consent, record integrity, etc.), and prevail in a legal dispute, you’ll need your e-signature app to offer advanced digital protection and anti-fraud measures, including:
- Timestamp of the e-signature,
- Geolocation coordinates – longitude and latitude – to match the timestamp,
- IP address of the signer,
- Signer’s unique device ID,
- And a decentralized, redundant digital ledger to store all of this data, ensuring modification of the original record would be impossible to carry out undetected.
Taken together, these make up the unique characteristics of blockchain, which is why government agencies and corporations are increasingly turning to this technology to secure their most valuable and sensitive electronic data. Here are just a few examples.
Government agencies secure their data with blockchain
The National Institutes of Health issued a paper in 2020 recommending the use of blockchain to track and secure COVID-19 data, calling it trusted tracking system. The paper’s key statement:
“Blockchain’s decentralized platform is tamperproof due to its underlying cryptographic technology, which is used to authenticate participants in the network.”1
The Department of Defense awarded a cybersecurity contract to longtime military contractor SIMBA Chain in 2020 to secure sensitive research-and-development records. As the announcement explained:
“Using blockchain, the DOD aims to improve integration, security, auditability, and controlled access of this critical data.” 2
Corporations secure their data with blockchain
A report by Concord Law School, explaining blockchain’s legal admissibility as digital evidence, notes that several large corporations are already using the technology to secure highly sensitive data. For example:
- Walmart uses blockchain to track produce and improve food safety;
- Healthcare organizations use blockchain to ensure medical-records integrity;
- Commercial real estate firms use blockchain to execute and store electronic contracts.3
If international corporations with billions of dollars at stake – and even federal agencies with data as sensitive as the Defense Department – trust their electronic records to blockchain technology, why would you want to record and store your company’s signed contracts with anything less proven and secure?
The only viable answer
Until now, you didn’t have any choice but to entrust your electronic signatures to more traditional cybersecurity protocols, because no e-signature app offered blockchain technology.
Even DocuSign, one of the world’s largest e-signature solutions, has acknowledged as recently as December 2020 that although the company finds blockchain technology “intriguing… it is still too expensive for the kinds of things [our] company does.”4
But today, you no longer have that challenge. jSign can protect your company’s electronic records in a digital environment that leverages all the security, decentralization and anti-fraud benefits of the blockchain.
To learn more about jSign, download this free white paper:
- NIH: Blockchain for COVID-19 – Review, Opportunities, and a Trusted System (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7549424/
- LedgerInsights: US DoD to Use Blockchain to Secure Sensitive Data (2020). https://www.ledgerinsights.com/us-department-of-defense-blockchain-secure-sensitive-data/
- Concord Law School: The Admissibility of Blockchain as Digital Evidence (2019). https://www.concordlawschool.edu/blog/news/admissibility-blockchain-digital-evidence/
- QuartzMedia: The Simple Reason DocuSign Doesn’t Use Blockchain (2020). https://qz.com/1942479/docusign-ceo-says-blockchain-is-too-expensive-for-wide-adoption/