What are UETA and the ESIGN Act?
In 1999, a nonprofit called the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) proposed the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which recognized the validity of electronic signatures. Forty-eight states, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia, passed laws based on this proposed framework. The states that have not adopted the UETA Act, New York and Illinois, have other similar laws regarding the legal recognition of electronic records, use of electronic records, and validity of electronic signatures.
In 2000, Congress passed the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act, which legislated that electronic signatures are valid in every state of the United States or territory where U.S. federal law applies, as well as for federal government business.
In the U.S. and most other countries, electronic signatures have the same legal effect of denoting parties’ agreement as paper records do. Prior to electronic documents, a signed paper document was the known single authoritative copy of the transferable record. With the UETA and ESIGN Acts, those authoritative copies can be digital.