July 12, 2008

Research Proposal on – A Comparative Study of Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)

1.0  Title

As initially drafted, the working title of this research is – A Comparative Study of Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)


2.0  Background of the Study

The term electronic signature is an ambiguous term. The most acceptable definition, however, is electronic signature as "an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record executed and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. Though there is confusion between the terms electronic signature and digital signature, it is clear that the former has extremely different security properties.

All electronic signatures, in essence, have been found legally binding in some circumstances. Signatures, either paper or electronic, are subject to forgery since they are possibly easy to manipulate or being copied illegally. Identify theft is one of the enduring examples of this. For business, fraud is a common issue in all signature situations.

In pursuit of eliminating corporate or white collar crimes that concerns digital signatures, various laws were passed. There are specific legislations concerning the effect and validity of digital signatures. Two of the electronic signature laws are Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act or ESIGN and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act or UETA). These legislations, however, are implemented in the United States (US).  

ESIGN is a US federal law passed by the US Congress to facilitate the use of electronic records and signatures in interstate and foreign commerce while UETA is one of the several United States Uniform Act proposed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Both laws purport on smoothening the conduct of business electronically through providing validity to electronic records and signatures.


3.0  Statement of the Problem

The problem that will be addressed in the study is the comparison of the efficacy of electronic signatures law – ESIGN and UETA. The study will answer the following research questions.

1)     What are the similarities and differences of ESIGN and UETA?

2)     What are the criticisms of ESIGN? of UETA?

3)     How does the US corporate community react with the implementation of the two legislations?

4)     How do electronic signature laws affect and contribute to the elimination of unethical practices and corporate crime in the US?

5)     How ESIGN and UETA contribute to the growth of the corporate community?


4.0  Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to draw a conclusion to which electronic signature law is more effective or is it the ESIGN is legislated to act as aid of UETA or vice versa. The following specific objectives will be addressed.

1)                           To identify the advocacies of the two extensive US electronic signature laws

2)                           To present the worldview of ESIGN and UETA proponents and opponents

3)                           To investigate the implications of ESIGN and UETA to US corporate world

4)                           To analyse how ESIGN and UETA could reduce the rate of corporate crimes and unethical practices

5)                           To distinguish how ESIGN and UETA could contribute to the growth of US corporate world


5.0  Research Methodology

The research will be approached in a descriptive manner. A descriptive research intends to present facts concerning the nature and status of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study and to describe present conditions, events or systems. As descriptive also, the study concerns the relationships and practices that exist, beliefs and processes that are ongoing, effects that are being felt, or trends that are developing. Apart, comparative research will be also adopted whereby qualitative data will be use since this research intends to find and build theories.

In this study, primary and secondary research will be both incorporated. The reason for this is to be able to provide adequate discussion for the readers that will help them understand more about the issue and the different variables that involve with it. The primary data for the study will be represented by the survey results that will be acquired from the respondents. On the other hand, the literature reviews to be presented in the second chapter of the study will represent the secondary data of the study. The secondary sources of data will come from published articles from business and e-commerce journals, theses and related studies on electronic signature laws.


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