GA House Bill 126 | NNA
Law

GA House Bill 126

Notary Law Update: GA House Bill 126

State: Georgia

Summary:

Georgia becomes the 49th U.S. jurisdiction to enact the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. The Act permits Notaries to use electronic signatures in performing electronic notarizations. 

Signed:  May 05, 2009

Effective:  July 01, 2009

Chapter: Act No. 141

Changes:
  1. Enacts the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) that was adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1999.
  2. Authorizes Notaries to use an electronic signature as defined under the UETA. Under the UETA, an electronic signature is any “sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
  3. Repeals previous OCGA 10-12-3, which defined “secure electronic signature” as a signature that is (a) unique to the person, (b) capable of independent verification, (c) under the sole control of the person using it and (d) is linked to data in such a manner that if the data are changed the electronic signature is invalidated, and OCGA 10-12-4, which stated that  any rule of law which requires a Notary’s signature shall be deemed satisfied by the secure electronic signature of such Notary.
  4. Makes conforming changes.
Analysis:

Georgia becomes the 49th U.S. state or jurisdiction to enact the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, leaving Illinois, New York and Washington as the only states that have not enacted the UETA. The fact that the General Assembly was considering the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act — which was also drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and relies heavily on the UETA — during the same legislative session provided an impetus to enact the UETA.

The UETA is the foundational electronic transactions law in the U.S. If a state enacts the UETA in the form published by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, then it becomes the controlling law in the state. Not enacting the UETA means that electronic transactions are then governed under the federal E-SIGN law. Most states have enacted the UETA in an effort to preempt the federal statute from regulating e-commerce.

The UETA contains a section on notarization and acknowledgment. Section 11 states that any person authorized to perform notarial acts may use an electronic signature as defined in the UETA. The notarization section is very broad, like most of the rest of the UETA.

By enacting the UETA, Georgia’s previous electronic transactions statute was repealed. This law had a definition of a “secure electronic signature” that contained performance standards for an electronic signature mirroring the National eNotarization Standards published by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the upcoming Model Notary Act of 2010. The repealed law stated that if a law required a notarization, a Notary must use a secure electronic signature. It is unfortunate that these laws were repealed, because they made a great case for Notaries using a more reliable technology for creating an electronic signature, such as the NNA’s Electronic Notary Signature (ENS). UETA allows Notaries to use the ENS, but also permits use of other less secure technologies for affixing an electronic signature as well.

Read the bill text.

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