The increasing use of e-commerce generally is considered a positive trend that should be fostered. Yet, many lawmakers believe that laws requiring signatures to authenticate certain transactions represent obstacles to e-commerce and threaten to keep it from reaching its full potential. In the European Union, several Member States have drafted or enacted "electronic signature" laws to define the legal validity of electronic signatures. However, many of these laws are taking diverging approaches, thus creating an inconsistent framework for electronic signatures. In response, the European Commission recently adopted a directive to provide a common framework for electronic signatures. In its present form, the Signature Directive appears to favor the use of a particular type of electronic signature called a digital signature to the potential detriment of other current and future technologies. This Note examines the Signature Directive's approach to defining the legal validity of electronic signatures and concludes that the Commission should revise the Signature Directive to take a more technologically neutral approach.
The European Commission’s Directive on Electronic Signatures: Technological “Favoritism” Towards Digital Signatures,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.