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Sign Documents Online with Adobe Electronic Signature

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This probably sounds silly, but since I work from a laptop, one of my bigger annoyances is going to hook up my Macbook to a printer and scanner to print agreements, sign them, and then scan them back to my computer (yeah, I should get a wireless device for it but that’s not the point).  It’s not that big of a deal but it’s one of those stupid, little annoyances. A friend of mine introduced me to a new Adobe online service that will virtually eliminate this.

Adobe’s Electronic Signature is a free, Internet based service that allows parties to an agreement to share and sign the agreement online. Users simply upload an agreement (only pdfs are accepted), enter the email address of the other parties, post a due date for the signatures, select a signature profile, and hit submit. The user has the option of choosing a standard signature, or the user can upload an image of an actual signature to make it more authentic.

Once the user has finished his part of the agreement, the other parties are notified and receive an email to access the agreement online. The must click the link furnished by Adobe to access the agreement. Once there, they are unable to alter the agreement, and the service leaves a note on all pages to show that all parties read and acknowledge each page. The other parties then check off their electronic signatures and the agreement is executed.

It’s an easier way to get important documents signed online without having to worry about scanners and fax machines.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (21)

    Paul Keating

    I also have this frustration. However, one must realize that the act of signing a document serves 1 and only 1 purpose – evidence that both parties have agreed to terms. Presenting the signature is evidence to the court that the other side signed. At a trial you must still ask the other side “is this your signature?”

    While Adobe may allow for you to simplify this it also makes the actual process of proof somewhat more difficult. Imagine the steps of proof that are now required.

    My solution? I keep a secure file with signatures. I cut and past them into documents and then secure the document – to prohibit cuts & pastes or changes – and then send along the document. The benefit is that the “copy” is my actual signature and not a message indicating that I have logged into such and such and done such and such.

    I am always looking for a better way but sorry, Adobe is not on my list.

    June 3rd, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Alex

    If you have an iPhone, check out an app called Zosh. It has completely eliminated the need to print and scan documents just to sign them.

    June 3rd, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    SL

    Thank you Elliot! Perfect timing as I was grappling with this issue yesterday.

    June 3rd, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Daniel Dryzek

    Thx Elliot! Interesting tool. @Alex Zosh very interesting too! I will give it a try.

    June 3rd, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    John J. Jacobs

    Elliot and Paul, you both make very valid points and I think its great that you all see the need to go paperless with transactions of this nature. There are many different variables to take into consideration when thinking about using electronic signatures; like as Paul said, not just legal admissibility but legal enforceability as well. While most electronic signature vendors do not offer a free service, there are many others who offer very affordable solutions that provide more of a turnkey solution with an abundance of tools that allow for customization, security and non-repudiation. Depending on your individual business needs a pure signing tool may be enough, and often is, however when examining different solutions, a company’s need for enhanced security, transaction management, and the need to limit their legal exposure may call for a more robust system.

    I work for a company that is deeply rooted in the industry (eOriginal, inc) and would be more than happy to answer any further questions that any of you have.

    June 3rd, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    MT

    If you like that application you will love DocuSign! DocuSign is easier to use, and you can do important things like place signatures in the document where they go – on the dotted line. (You actually can’t sign on the dotted line with the Adobe service.) There are many more features you may find useful in DocuSign as well – send any document type, not just PDF, place initials and other data fields for your signer to fill out, authenticate the signer so you know who they are, and allow the signer to sign without having to create an account with Adobe…

    http://www.docusign.com – you’ll be hooked.

    June 3rd, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Steve M

    Thanks for the great info, Elliot and posters.

    Another consideration comes to mind (and I haven’t checked to see which if any of the above-listed services it applies to):

    Just who is able to see/read/copy/store/share with others your documents?

    Are you O.K. with that?

    June 3rd, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    John J. Jacobs

    Steve M, I can certainly appreciate your concern; document security is very important, especially if the document holds personal, proprietary or financial information. While I cant comment on other solutions that you may run across, I can tell you that the eOriginal solutions use some of the most advanced technology to ensure document safety. This includes encryption of the documents over the wire and at rest, tamper seals, several authentication methods giving assurance that the individual accessing the document is in fact the right person. As well as an audit trail giving a detailed history of every time the document was accessed and by whom. I hope this helps, but feel free to contact me if you would like more information. http://www.eoriginal.com

    June 3rd, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Chema

    This product (www.PortaSigma.com) allows to sign on-line using digital signature technology, that is, electronic certificates, Public key cryptography and so.

    This is a requirement to be a valid electronic signature, since it binds cryptographically the document with de signer’s identity and provide integrity to de document.

    Inserting an image to a document is only that, an image, and does not provide evidence on the signers identity.

    June 4th, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    thanks for sharing the PDF. It will save time. Cool feature.

    Jason

    June 4th, 2010 at 6:26 am

    SL

    Just to clarify, it’s very difficult to find a one-off service and that’s why the Adobe offering looked appealing.

    For example, of all the esig sites I checked, and those listed in this thread, only one had their pricing listed (Docusign) and it was a subscription basis. Understandably most are geared to high volume.

    As an occasional user I’d be willing to pay a few bucks for each instance, even if over a year the cost equaled the subscription. Mainly to avoid another recurring bill hitting the cc every month. Did I overlook a site that does this?

    June 4th, 2010 at 8:24 am

    chemalogo (fka Chema)

    @SL.

    I have to disagree. Portasigma lists its pricing at portasigma.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49&Itemid=2&lang=es

    And have low volumen/low cost plans.

    An, additionally you can test it for free for 50 signatures

    And, I may insist, the signature has legal effects under de european directive for electronic signature

    June 4th, 2010 at 8:42 am

    John J. Jacobs

    SL, I can certainly understand why this method is appealing and it really is a good solution for those that may only need a one time use or will use eSignatures less often. I would always take into consideration the type of document that needs to be signed as well as the particular security and compliance needs in regard to your industry and documents. With regards to cost; there is a good reason that some companies don’t list price on the website. With eOriginal; our solution isn’t one size fits all. We offer a diverse feature set, multiple deployment/integration options, and depending on individual business needs all feature and options must be taken into account. eOriginal’s solutions were designed to be flexible, allowing us to conform to your business needs. With that in mind we do offer subscription based and per-use pricing models which are discussed with each individual client based on their projected needs, use, and budgeting factors.

    June 4th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Daniel Dryzek

    @chemalogo Is Portasigma only in Spanish?

    June 4th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Steve M

    Thanks for the additional info re eOriginal.com, JJJ.

    But my concern is more along the lines of who else besides the actual parties to the documents can access/see/read/copy/store/share them?

    eOriginal employees?

    Since you say you maintain an audit trail, does this mean the documents themselves are saved?

    And if so, what would you do if you received a legal court order to produce such (a) document(s)?

    These kind of issues are of course one of the big drawbacks of using “the cloud” for important documents & information.

    June 4th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    John J. Jacobs

    No Worries Steve M, I am always happy to answer questions!

    With the eOriginal’s solutions, no one besides the initiator (sender) of the documents and intended parties(signer(s)) have access to the documents…. not even eOriginal employees. We do this by having a role based system for setting up transactions (i.e defining recipients/signers/reviewers etc.) and several front line ID verification tools to ensure the receiver of the document is in fact the intended party. The only way an eOriginal employee could have access, is if you granted permission.

    The documents themselves are stored, but not in the cloud, they are stored in our Trusted Repository a SAS 70 Type II PCI compliant facility. You can access our application in the cloud however the secure eSigning process takes place outside in a secure environment. Our eSignture process encrypts your documents, and digitally tamper seals them to ensure the integrity and non-repudiation of your document. We also provide a complete detailed audit trail to show every action taken against your documents down to who has accessed/viewed the documents and when.

    In the event that documents from the eOriginal trusted repository are called into the court of law, eOriginal has a patented process that produces a legal affidavit along with several other documents (including the audit trail) to ensure legal enforceability.

    Hope this answers your question, but please don’t hesitate to ask more.

    You can certainly find an abundance of this information on our website http://www.eoriginal.com

    June 4th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    JW

    I found a great blog that may help explain the basic requirments for e-signatures, which most providers fail to even meet, either because their organizations are sales driven or they just don’t understand the e-sign laws.

    http://blog.docverify.com/2010/04/27/understanding-e-sign-concepts-and-requirements/

    As for security, it is extremely important to make sure the e-signature solution provider you decide to go with isn’t just full of smoke and mirrors.

    Yes, I agree SAS 70 Type II data centers is important, SSL, as well as encryption, but as a user you should always ask the provider to explain to you what that really mean when they say encryption.

    Encryption at rest in most cases means files are encrypted on a disk level, and if someone walks off with a hard drive it’ll be encrypted, but what if one of their employees who has access to those same drives… can he/she copy your sensitive data and walk away with it. The answer is probably most definitly, yes. As for role based security… smoke and mirrors.

    I wouldn’t even consider going with a provider unless they could prove that each and every document or file is individually encrypted. This can be extremely costly to the provider, but it’s currently one of the most secure ways of protecting files, and it should be your requirment. We’ve all heard about identity theft.

    My company has had me look into e-signature providers for a while now, and although most providers have decent products, they unfortunately still fall short, except for one maybe two. I personally have locked on to DocVerify http://www.docverify.com, and they not only fit the bill, but they are far and above the most secure from what i’ve seen so far. They encrypt each file individually, and according to NIST it would take a hacker over 2 trillion years to crack each file. Also, they seem to be pretty knowledgable about e-signatures, its legality, and issues.

    But whichever provider you end up going with, you should always ask the right questions.

    June 7th, 2010 at 1:19 am

    SL

    @JW: From the research you did, what specific companies are you referring to when you say “most providers” in these statements:

    “basic requirments (sic) for e-signatures, which most providers fail to even meet” and

    “My company has had me look into e-signature providers for a while now, and although most providers have decent products, they unfortunately still fall short”?

    June 7th, 2010 at 7:50 am

    John J. Jacobs

    JW, you make some very good points here, and I will be happy to clarify.

    I did read over the blog post you mentioned, and I do apologize, but this is the first time I have heard of the company you mentioned, we probably would not be considered direct competitors. Again, I can’t comment on other solutions, but to give an idea of eOriginal and our solutions; we have been in the marketplace for 15 years, eOriginal participated in the drafting and standards support through the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), the Accredited Standards Committee (ACS) X9 committees establishing the standard for eContracts and chairing of the AFSA ACS X9 Transfer of Location of Electronic Contracts (TOLEC) standard committee, and the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO), including the eVault standards committees, and other organizations which deal with document security. As well as being the only company recognized by top ratings agencies to provide eContracting services that are rated as the same as wet ink on paper for securitizing, pledging, pooling, etc. in the secondary marketplace.

    With regards to encryption and storage; Files stored in our Trusted Repository are digitally tamper sealed and encrypted on a doc by doc basis and if necessary any multimedia files (voice signatures, biometric data) attached to the documents are also treated with the same security and actually all actions taken against documents are completed on the server side which means greater security and control of eSigned documents, so – no hard drive is involved. Our trusted repository is a guarded facility with only privileged physical access.

    Role based permission is not really security, it’s a means of authenticating and individual or group of individuals who have access to certain documents; I would be more than happy to explain, but I would say its hardly smoke and mirrors, as it is important to know who has access to what documents, and the ability to track and record that information.

    I hope the information provided helps, but please feel free to contact me and we can dive a bit deeper. http://www.eoriginal.com

    June 7th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Mark Joseph@Electronic Signature

    The user friendly interface of RightSignature allows one to sign documents which are legally valid and without any hassles.

    August 26th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Bárbara

    A free application that works very well in the process of signature is XolidoSign. More info on http://www.xolidosign.com

    January 18th, 2012 at 11:14 am

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