Check out this article by Gene Takagi over at NonProfit Law Blog about board actions by email. While the article is focused on California law, I think the notion of what constitutes a legal digital signature is useful for all.
According to California law, a digital signature must have all of the following in order to be legal:
- It is unique to the person using it.
- It is capable of verification.
- It is under the sole control of the person using it.
- It is linked to data in such a manner that if the data are changed, the digital signature is invalidated.
Number 3 speaks to a general peeve of mine about email accounts. I have a number of friends who share their email account with a spouse. So I’m never quite sure who will read what I wrote or who has answered my note. And because I’m talking about actual friends here, it does make it difficult to decide just what kind of personal griping is reasonable.
So if you must be the only one with access to the account in order for the digital headers to count as legal… well, that’s just one more reason to have your own account.
But how does the data remain unchanged?
I’m not sure how to manage this requirement. Probably the safest way is to send email votes to an account set up specifically for the organization. Then the original info can’t be changed (at least by normal people without special skills!) Use tags or folders to store the replies.