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Digital signatures now worth the paper they're not printed on

Hand-delivered termination

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Digital signatures are on their way to gaining the same legal weight in America as hand-written ones.

This means legally binding contracts can now be finalised online.

Previously, applications for loans or mortgages and so on could be filled in online, but the final contract had to be sent out and signed in person. This is no longer necessary. However, notices of termination must still be delivered in person.

The bill is expected to be passed quickly by the Senate, and has the backing of the President.

Clinton said in a statement that it will encourage the information technology revolution which has helped lower inflation, raised productivity and spurred new research and development.

The bill could take effect as soon as March 1 2001.

In the UK, similar legislation was given Royal Assent on May 25 this year in the UK, and will come into force on July 25 as part of the Electronic Communications Act

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