UT Senate Bill 20


State: Utah
Signed: March 10, 2006

Effective: May 01, 2006
Chapter: 21


Senate Bill 20 repeals the Utah Digital Signature Act, but will still allow Notaries to perform electronic notarizations under existing law. The bill makes other changes as well.


Repeals Sections 46-3-101 through 104, 46-3-201-204, 46-3-302-310, 46-3-401-406, 46-3-501, 502, 504, and 46-3-601, 602, and amends Sections 46-1-2, 46-1-6, 46-1-14, 46-1-16, 46-43-205, and 76-6-1102 of the Utah Code Annotated.

  1. Repeals the Utah Digital Signature Act of 1996, a comprehensive first-of-its-kind statute permitting use of digital signature technology and regulating certification authorities who issue digital certificates.
  2. Strikes from the notarial definition of “acknowledgment”: (a) the requirement that in an acknowledgment a Notary certifies the signer’s identity has been proven through the Notary’s personal knowledge or on the basis of satisfactory evidence; and (b) the allowance that the signer’s acknowledgment may be taken over an electronic communication that is as reliable as an admission made in the presence of a Notary.
  3. Adds a definition of “electronic signature” by pointing to the definition used in UCA 46-4-102.
  4. Strikes from the definition of “satisfactory evidence of identity” the method of proving a signer’s identity by electronic protocols as reliable as an acceptable state or federal government-issued ID document or the oath or affirmation of a credible identifying witness.
  5. Repeals from the statute listing authorized notarial acts that may be performed by a Notary those electronic notarial acts dependent upon the use of digital signature technology.
  6. Removes the option of a Notary keeping an electronic journal of notarial acts. Note: Utah law permits, but does not require, Notaries to keep an official journal.
  7. For the purposes of prosecuting identity fraud crimes, defines “personal identifying information as including a person’s electronic signature as defined under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
  8. Makes other minor conforming changes.

Utah was the first state to adopt comprehensive legislation committing the state to a specific technology known as asymmetric cryptography with a public key infrastructure (PKI) for digitally signing an electronic document utilizing “public” and “private” keys. In a PKI system, the signer’s public key is, in turn, signed by a trusted third party (certification authority) who verifies the identity of the signer and cryptographically binds the signer’s identity to the signer’s public key. While widely regarded as among the safest methods for transacting electronic documents, two chief developments led to the downfall of Utah’s Digital Signature Act: (1) adoption of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National E-Commerce Act (E-Sign) in 2000, putting Utah’s commitment to a single electronic signature technology at odds with the stance of technological neutrality embraced in these other laws; and (2) failure of PKI technology to gain traction in the state.

Even with the repeal of the Digital Signature Act, Utah Notaries may still perform electronic notarizations utilizing digital signatures under existing Notary law.

Senate Bill 20 also removed Utah’s innovative attempt to define “personal appearance” and “satisfactory evidence of identity” in the electronic world as allowing electronic communications and protocols, such as videoconferencing, that are as reliable as a face-to-face meeting of a signer before a Notary.

Regrettably, Senate Bill 20 also removed from the definition of “acknowledgment” the requirement that a Notary must certify to the identity of the signer based upon personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence. Interestingly, the definition of the notarial of “jurat” retains the requirement that a Notary must certify to the identity of the signer. In addition, while the law permits, but does not require, Notaries to keep a journal of notarial acts, Senate Bill 20 struck from the law the ability of a Notary to keep an electronic journal.

Read Senate Bill 20.