Electronic Signatures in Accordance to Federal Law
While uploading a paper today, I was directed to the new IEEE online copyright transfer site. To sign the electronic form, I had to type my name. The legal basis for this form of electronic signature was given as well:
By clicking this button, you certify that such action constitutes your electronic signature to the IEEE Copyright Form in accordance with Federal Law, which authorizes electronic signature by authenticated request from a user over the internet as a valid substitute for a written signature.
I am not sure which Federal Law they refer to, given the global nature of IEEE authors. Assuming they refer to a law in the United States of America, it perhaps even applies to someone or something able to type my name correctly. So the real question seems to be what constitutes an “authenticated request” in the sense of this Federal Law. Given the rather unspectacular web site user registration system and the rather simple minded mechanisms for password resets via unprotected email, I consider the level of authentication rather poor. Will be interesting to see whether these signatures hold in front of courts.