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Digital Signature Working Group I. Terms Of Reference - July 31, 1997

There are over 65 "digital signature" initiatives underway world-wide. (The term digital signature is used generically here to mean electronic authentication of documents.) Despite the amount of work being done to analyze the legal and policy implications of digital signatures, governments have moved forward to produce legislative mandates that often are inconsistent or lack interoperability. ILPF has established a digital signature working group to address these inconsistencies because Internet commerce depends upon a robust digital signature environment that does not preclude innovation in technology or favor any one product or cryptographic algorithm over another.

The ILPF Digital Signature Working Group will accomplish the following objectives:

  • Survey U.S. and international digital signature/electronic authentication legislative efforts;
  • Compare legislative initiatives; (The Full Report and the appendices are available in .pdf format.)
  • Draft Model U.S. legislation;
  • Utilize ILPF web site for display of information; and
  • Consider model international issues and possible protocol for recognition of digital signatures/electronic authentication.

II. Summary Of Action Plan

ILPF proposes to approach the working group on two tracks. First, because U.S. legislative efforts offer the opportunity to examine both the normative trends and issues regarding transborder recognition of signatures, the first track will concentrate on a survey and comparison of State efforts and the recommendation of model legislation. Concomitant, an international survey will be initiated, but not necessarily progress at the same pace as the State effort. Once completed, the working group will identify the international issues presented by transborder recognition of electronic documents and consider what protocols might be established to further digital signatures use in Internet commerce.

III. U.S. Model Legislation Initiative

There are three phases to this working group. First, a survey of domestic legislation will be completed. The survey is ongoing and can be viewed at <www.ilpf.org>. Second, an expert will engage in a comparative analysis of the legislation and report to ILPF on the similarities and differences. Third, a drafting committee will convene to prepare and recommend model provisions.

  1. DSig Survey

    The ongoing survey collects both U.S. and international material, but its primary effort is aimed at U.S. legislation at this stage. The web site displays both links and text of the legislation and is updated regularly. This information will be available to the expert for his or her analysis.

  2. Legislative Analysis and Budget

    The comparative analysis could be conducted by a variety of professionals, ranging from law student interns supervised by the ILPF Executive Director, to qualified lawyers or policy analysts, to an academician. None of the above are excluded, but the preference is for a law school professor to undertake the project and then to be available to assist the working group interrogator in Phase 3.

  3. Drafting Session and Working Group Composition

    IBM will host up to a three-day working group session at a convenient U.S. site. The purpose of the session will be to review the survey results and analysis and to draft model legislation.

    The working group will be reflective of a broad range of interests, including consumer, industry and government. Consistent with ILPF philosophy, technical experts will be part of the working group. The ILPF Executive Director will nominate participants in early August 1997.

    The working group will invite State government or industry representatives or technical experts to present information during the session. However, the drafting sessions primarily is dedicated to accomplishing the drafting exercise rather than not open to the public.

    The working group may draw on the expertise of such entities as W3C or other technical representatives.

IV. International Survey

A survey of international digital signature initiatives has been conducted and posted to the web site.

V. Project Time Line

Phase 1 is a continuous effort throughout the project, but the basic elements of State legislation are in place. Phase 2 will commence upon nomination of professor or other professional to conduct the required analysis. The workshop meeting date will be in early October. Results of the meeting will be provided to ILPF members for 30 days of comment. The working group will respond electronically to any comment and the final document will be available for distribution no later than December 1. Results will be posted on the web site and the working group may, subject to ILPF approval, be part of the January 1998 ILPF meeting and conference.

For timeline purposes, the schedule appears as follows:

August 1 Complete collection of State legislative initiatives and post to web site; weekly updates thereafter
September 15 Complete analysis and comparison of legislation, including summary and white paper; Commitments obtained from working group members
October 15 3-day Working Group Meeting; Report out model legislation to ILPF members
November 15 ILPF comment to working group
December 1 Working Group Final Draft available to ILPF members and posted on web site for comment; International survey results and trend analysis posted to web site
January 6-9, 1998 ILPF annual meeting and conference in Seattle, WA; results of working group efforts may be presented; International panel for 1998 expenditure decided at annual meeting as part of budget and 1998 agenda review

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