-Notarization Mechanics"> How to the actual software procedures work for e-notarizing a document? The Pennsylvania and NNA sites are not very specific about it. One very popular way is to use Adobe Acrobat, which has good support for digital signing. There are also a number of vertical software companies that have had to contend with the notarization process and which are excited at the possibility to provide for electronic notarization directly in their products.Its also possible to use any free, off-the-shelf software that supports x.509 certificates (Microsoft has some for free download). These might be inconvenient, in that you might have to separately track a file with a signature in it, as opposed to using a format like PDF that supports signatures intrinsically. No matter how they are made, if they follow established PKI x.509 standards the notarys certificate can be checked by anyone not only for authenticity with the certificate authority (GeoTrust, under contract to the NNA), but check to see if their authority has been revoked or expired. Try doing that with a conventional notary. The PKI infrastructure thus makes notarization much more secure than in the paper world, where its too easy to photocopy a stamp or seal and duplicate it. Its a pretty radical change, though, for a practice that has been pretty stable for hundreds, arguably thousands of years. And its not just a matter of getting individual notaries to embrace the electronic approach; there are state-to-state and international legal issues. What happens when someone tries to use in one state a legal document electronically notarized in another that doesnt yet have electronic notarization? The NNA says that such a case is in the courts in Michigan now and that they have filed an amicus brief in it in support of electronic notarization. The Constitution requires that states grant "full faith and credit" to the legal decisions and procedures of others, but to an old-fashioned state facing an e-notarization, it must surely seem as if the Martians have landed. As widespread as PKI is in computing, I have to think its been substantially a failure for not reaching so many areas to which it can bring value. Notarization could be a bellwether for the movement of PKI into mainstream applications where strong authentication and accreditation are needed. If it cant be made accessible and compelling enough, people will resist it, and that would be to everyones loss. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
Consider Simplifile, which makes products for electronic document recording at counties, or Tyler Technologies, which makes products for (among other things) property appraisal and assessment.