The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) goes hand-in-hand with the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act), in that both were enacted to help ensure the validity of electronic contracts and the defensibility of electronic signatures. The UETA gives states a framework for determining the legality of an electronic signature in both commercial and government transactions.

Although there are many similarities between the UETA and the ESIGN Act, there are a few major differences that are worth pointing out. The most obvious difference has to do with governance. The ESIGN Act is a federal act, which means it affects people who do business online in all 50 states. The UETA, meanwhile, has been adopted on a state-by-state basis. Individual states have the option to adopt or reject the guidelines presented in the act. In most cases, where there is a conflict between the ESIGN Act and the UETA, the state law will govern. However, the ESIGN Act specifies that while state laws do not have to conform exactly to the federal law, they must provide equivalent protection for electronic contracts and electronic signatures.

At the present time, the UETA has been adopted by 47 states, including Mississippi, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mississippi’s statute is found at Miss. Code Ann. § 75-12-1 et seq.

As with the ESIGN Act, the UETA does not govern wills, trusts, and a number of other transactions that are managed by the courts. A complete list of excluded transactions can be found in the statute. Instead, the UETA focuses solely on electronic contracts related to “business, commercial (including consumer) and governmental matters.”

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