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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, Attorney General Janet Mills and Chief Information Officer Jim Smith
AUGUSTA, Maine—After years of analysis and collaboration with the offices of the Attorney General and Information Technology, the Secretary of State has adopted a rule governing the use of digital signatures in conducting a variety of state business transactions. The rule takes effect today.
The digital signature rule will govern how digital signatures are utilized for documents issued to citizens, vendors, and the business community, including regulated professions, as well as documents being transmitted to state agencies. With technology evolving and developing, a number of commercial software products have become available that provide the security and integrity the public expects of state transactions while affording the convenience and ease of electronic commerce.
The rule accomplishes two objectives: it sets standards by which digital signature products may be accepted for transacting state business, and it specifies the application process for digital signature product vendors to follow in order to have their products approved for state business.
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) will offer information and guidance in the availability and use of digital signature technology, and will maintain a list of approved vendors. "As the industry and citizens move more to the efficiency of digital communication, the State of Maine will continue to evolve to support these methods" stated Chief Information Officer Jim Smith.
Examples of how digital signatures can expedite state business include the ability for a regulatory agency such as the Department of Marine Resources to transmit permits electronically, rather than mail them with authorized physical signatures for regulated activity, thereby saving time and money, or expediting the transmission of birth and death records from hospitals and funeral homes to the Department of Health and Human Services electronically rather than by paper, assuring the timely receipt of those important documents.
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap noted that the discussion about the use of digital signatures has been a long, ongoing process. “It’s been under discussion for the better part of fifteen years,” he said. “The lingering questions have circled around how to assure the legitimacy of these transmitted documents.” Attorney General Janet Mills added that this piece of the project has been the most critical. “The entire system of government transactions hinges on the legitimacy of documents,” she said. “Being able to trust the source of a digital signature will insure that a document’s integrity will stand up to legal scrutiny.”
For more information on digital signature technology, visit OIT’s website at http://www.maine.gov/oit/signature .
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