Lowry signs "digital signature" law

OLYMPIA - Imagine being able to complete a transcontinental business agreement, signature and all, via personal computer. Using state-of-the-art technology, Gov. Mike Lowry today signed legislation to enhance international and domestic trade in Washington through the use of "digital signatures" in electronic transactions.

Senate Bill 6423, known as the Washington Electronic Authentication Act, provides a secure and convenient way for businesses to electronically transfer contracts, letters of credit, payments and other formal documents which in the past have required a written signature. To demonstrate the technology, Lowry and Secretary of State Ralph Munro approved an electronic version of the bill using the digital signature process.

"I am proud to usher our state into a new technological era," Lowry said. "We are now one of the first states to create a protocol for the use of electronic signatures in commerce; I'm sure this will be a great asset to our growing stature in international trade."

The legislation was proposed by the Secretary of State's office, which has worked with other states to ensure that standards for digital signatures are uniform and consistent across the country.

"The availability of this electronic transfer process will help attract foreign companies who are looking for trading partners in the United States," Munro said. "With this protocol set in place, firms from other countries will view the state of Washington as a convenient and accessible place to do business electronically."

The law authorizes businesses and organizations to obtain a special digital code for use as a "signature" in electronic transactions. The secretary of state will license private vendors to verify the codes upon receipt of an electronic document. Also, the state Department of Information Services (DIS) will work with the secretary to identify areas where digital signatures can be used to increase the efficiency of state government.

"This technology opens up a whole new range of possibilities for government to change the way it does business," DIS Director Steve Kolodney said. "We will take the necessary steps to develop a statewide infrastructure to enable electronic commerce for both the public and private sectors."


For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790 or Linda Mackintosh at the Secretary of State's Office at 360-753-2896.