By Reggie Davis, General Counsel 

Seventeen years ago today, the U.S. federal government passed the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), implementing a national uniform standard for all electronic transactions. Since that day, we’ve witnessed incredible strides in the advancement of eSignature and this past year was no exception.   

Added Legal Validation and Support  

Court rulings during the course of the last year continue to validate the original principles of ESIGN in the United States by honoring and enforcing agreements concluded electronically. Two recent case decisions emphasize the value of robust eSignature solutions, like DocuSign, that adequately authenticate signers, seal documents upon downloading and keep a detailed record of events associated with the transaction.  

In Lasseigne v. Sterling Jewelers, Inc., (E.D. La. May 5, 2017), the district court determined that a preponderance of the evidence demonstrated the signature on the arbitration agreement was attributable to the Plaintiff. Based upon the totality of the circumstances surrounding the electronic orientation/onboarding process, the Plaintiff was in fact the person who had signed the arbitration agreement because she had entered a personal code before accessing and electronically signing the agreement.  

Similarly, in Gonzalez v. Ceva Logistics U.S., Inc., (N.D. Cal. Oct. 31, 2016) the court found the company had met its burden in showing the electronic signature was authentic because the application required applicants to fill out detailed personal information that only the applicant would know. The company offered adequate evidence that only the employee could have filled out the form, that the document could not have been altered after it was submitted, and that the employee herself had signed the arbitration agreement as her own act. The arbitration agreement was held enforceable under ESIGN, but was otherwise unenforceable under the NLRA, a separate issue in the case.

In addition to supporting the original principles of ESIGN, these cases underscore the increasing recognition of the importance of attribution, security, and validity within electronically signed documents.

Global Expansion

I have been particularly pleased to see how eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) have accelerated globally over the past year, hastened by regulatory changes and standards proliferation.  

On the heels of ESIGN Day 2016, the European Union (EU) Regulation “eIDAS” took effect on July 1st to help ensure more standardized use of electronic signature across the EU, thus making business simpler and more efficient. DocuSign is pleased to offer the three types of electronic signatures recognized in the EU: Electronic Signature, Advanced Electronic Signature and Qualified Electronic Signature. eIDAS also reinforced the core principle that electronic signatures should not be denied legal effect or admissibility in legal proceedings. 

The xDTM Standard Association, founded by DocuSign, Visa, Intel, and other industry leaders to create the first standard for digital transaction management (DTM), has expanded globally over the last year. In June 2016, industry leaders in Europe including SAP, BASF, Dow Jones, and others joined the effort and just recently, NTT Advanced Technology Corporation of Japan became the xDTM Standard Association’s newest advisory board member. As digital transaction management adoption continues to increase, this progress complements regional regulation around eSignature and takes a “best of globe” approach to ensuring quality in digital transactions.  

A Look Ahead

It looks like it will be another exciting year ahead for eSignature. Privacy will certainly be in the spotlight with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in May 2018, requiring all global businesses (including eSignature providers) to adhere to strict data protection requirements when handling personal data whether for customers, personnel or vendors. We also expect global growth and acceptance to continue and legal validation and support to trend favorably.  

At DocuSign, we have been proud to be part of the advancement of eSignature and DTM over the years. Aided by regulatory barriers being broken down and the rise of global acceptance worldwide, DocuSign now has more than 300,000 customers and more than 200 million users in 188 countries – with an average of 300,000 new users joining the DocuSign platform every day.

We will be eagerly watching new developments in the coming year that will continue to shape the environment in which organizations will be required to execute agreements digitally. We have a lot to celebrate on this National ESIGN day with the significant growth and innovation in eSignature and Digital Transaction Management that has occurred over the last year.