American Century Adopts E-SignaturesAmerican Century Investments, Kansas City, Mo., last month became one of the first mutual fund companies to offer customers the option of using electronic signatures to open accounts online. Investors using the e-signature option to open a new account must provide an e-mail and a mailing address in addition to meeting the fund's minimum investment requirement. Security precautions require the user to provide personal information and to use a funding bank account in the same name as the one used with the American Century account.

FTC Issues E-Commerce Suggestions

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a report outlining suggestions for consumer protections in global e-commerce, focusing on what rules should govern when consumers shop online at foreign Web sites. The report cautions against current proposals that online sellers should be governed only by their own country's laws or by laws they prescribe in their sales contracts. The FTC report calls for the development of a "workable framework for jurisdiction and applicable law." The report also encourages the private sector to move on the subject of consumer protections, such as certification programs, ratings systems and codes of conduct to give consumers the ability to find out how a company operates. The FTC also recommends that consumer agencies from different nations share information. Shared data would provide for more effective international consumer protections, the report states.

N.J. Fills Gaps In Federal E-Sig Bill

The New Jersey State Senate has taken the federal e-signature legislation one step further, voting unanimously for a bill to increase the acceptability of e-signatures just as the federal measure was taking effect. "We need the e-signature state law to keep up with the changing world economy," says Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), the sponsor of the bill. "We have to move quickly because of enactment of the federal law." The state legislation was necessary because the federal law does not provide for consumer protections, Kyrillos adds. The measure, which now heads to the state assembly, would give consumers the same protection they would have for face-to-face transactions, he says. The federal law allows for digital signatures for business transactions such as stock transfers and the purchase of equipment. Neither the New Jersey bill nor the Federal law that took effect Oct. 1 specifies which version of e-signature technology is used. The reasoning behind this is that "technological neutrality" would prove helpful in encouraging businesses to go online by not forcing any particular system upon them. Under the state law, e-signatures would not be legitimate for cancellation of an insurance policy, product recalls, notices of default, foreclosure, eviction or family law matters.

Synaptics, Silanis Provide Laptop Support

Silanis Technology Inc., a developer of electronic signature and approval management software, is integrating its ApproveIT signature technology with Touchpad technology provided by Synaptics Inc., San Jose, Calif. The interface will enable users of laptop computers to apply a single electronic signature to Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Synaptics, which claims to have shipped its TouchPad technology to more than 30 million notebook computers, will offer the ApproveIT technology as a desktop solution or as a TouchPad notebook offering.

DocuTouch Makes "50 To Watch" List

Seattle-based DocuTouch, an application service provider of online digital signature and document management technology, has garnered inclusion on LocalBusiness.com's "50 to Watch" list. The quarterly list recognizes emerging small- to mid-cap private and public companies that meet specific criteria, including how they have strengthened a local economy or how they offer leading-edge products and services. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based LocalBusiness.com, formerly known as dbusiness.com, is an Internet resource for news, information and resources on local businesses in markets throughout the United States.

Assurant Agents Get E-Sign Technology

Specialty insurance provider Assurant Group is providing 250 agents with the technology to use e-signatures. Agents for the Atlanta- and Miami-based company will have pads attached to their laptops to capture and create a digitized image of clients' signatures. Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Communication Intelligence Corp. developed the software, called Sign-it. The program records not only the signature itself, but also aspects of its creation--for example the speed at which it was written or whether a "t" was crossed during or at the end the signing. This information would be used to verify the authenticity of the signature in the event of a dispute.

MIB and e-Nable Accept E-Signatures

Database and information management tools provider MIB Group Inc., Westwood, Mass., and e-Nable.com Corp., a subsidiary of the MIB Group, announced they are accepting electronic signatures as a nontraditional method of consent.

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