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What Are Electronic Agreements &

Electronic Signatures?

An electronic agreement is an agreement created and "signed" in electronic form -- in other words, no paper or other hard copies are used. For example, you write an agreement on your computer and email it to a business associate, and the business associate emails it back with an electronic signature indicating acceptance. An e-agreement can also be in the form of a "Click to Agree" agreement, commonly used with downloaded software: The user clicks an "I Agree" button on a page containing the terms of the software license before the transaction can be completed.

Since a traditional ink signature isn't possible on an electronic agreement, people use several different ways to indicate their electronic signatures, including typing the signer's name into the signature area, pasting in a scanned version of the signer's signature, clicking an "I Accept" button, or using cryptographic "scrambling" technology.

Though a lot of people use the term "digital signature" for any of these methods, it's becoming standard to reserve the term "digital signature" for cryptographic signature methods and to use "electronic signature" for other paperless signature methods.

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