“No technology ever supercedes that which predates it.”
– Who said that?
>Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 17:14:02 -0700
>From: “Maury Kauffman”
>To: “IAN ANDREW BELL”
>Subject: Digital Signatures Will Kill Fax (Not)
>The Kauffman Letter
>Insights and Commentary on Fax, FoIP and UM
>August 16, 2000 Issue
>Digital Signatures Will Kill Fax (Not)
>In perhaps the most fantastic demonstration of bipartisanship
>since congress saluted the lunar landing, the US House of
>Representatives overwhelmingly approved by a 426-4 vote, the
>E-Signature bill. It took only two more days for the Senate
>(the world’s greatest deliberative body) to also agree, by a
>Not to be outdone, President Clinton signed the Electronic
>Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act into law,
>proclaiming: “Soon vast warehouses of paper will be replaced
>by servers the size of VCRs.” CNN commented that Clinton
>signed the bill the “old-fashioned way, with an ink pen.”
>In essence, the law grants a digital signature the same legal
>status as a handwritten John Hancock. It requires consumers
>to agree to electronically signed contracts and consent to
>receiving records over the Internet. Companies must verify
>that their customers have a live email address and “other
>technical means to receive information,” (whatever that means.)
>Is this historic? I don’t know. What does it mean for fax?
>Not much. That much, I do know.
>One of the primary reasons why fax machines have yet to disappear
>is the need for legally acceptable signatures on documents. Just
>because there’s another new law on the books, doesn’t mean
>consumers and frequent faxers will change their habits.
>Now, before I receive Luddite emails, let me be clear: I want
>digital signatures. I dislike having had to download, print and
>fax back insurance applications and stock trading account forms.
>However, there are several barriers to worldwide adoption of digital
>signatures. First, there are no common standards among competing
>public-key infrastructure technologies or validation processes.
>Second, users will have to overcome the interoperability issues from
>Different vendor’s products. Third, all of the bugs better be
>worked-out. No one wants their signature floating around cyberspace
>on v1 software.
>But, I’m an optimist. I believe all of these problems will be solved.
>Then, the lawyers will get involved. They will caution their clients
>against using digital signatures until test cases are run through the
>US courts. Figure ten years.
>Finally, are e-signatures going to be doggy-piggy-bunny-easy to use?
>If not, consumers won’t bother with them. Which is why the fax
>machine lives while digital postage dies.
>The Kauffman Group ( http://www.kauffmangroup.com )
>A small, US-based FoIP SW company is looking for a merger partner
>or to be acquired. Interested principals should contact me directly.
>I will be speaking next at VON Fall 2000, Sept 12-14 in Atlanta.
>I am now making appointments.
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