Florida County Courts Move To Tamper-Proof Digital Signatures


Florida county courts have tapped GlobalSign to work with them on tamper-proof signatures in an effort to curb digital fraud.

Digital signatures can make transactions a lot easier, especially if parties aren’t sitting in an office together when paperwork gets wrapped up. But, signatures are also vulnerable to fraud if they aren’t managed securely. GlobalSign’s solution builds on its work as a digital certificate authority by putting a secure digital certificate with the signature, adding an extra layer of security. In Florida, county courts in Holmes, Okaloosa, Jackson, Broward, Putnam, St. Lucie, Indian River, Osceola and Union are using GlobalSign for final judgments, land records, court records and other public documents.

A recent WalletHub survey ranked Florida’s population second in the country for vulnerability to identity theft and fraud. State residents reported a high number of complaints in both categories. Courts and other state offices are making an effort to find secure solutions to document fraud in response.

The ClerkECertify program that will support authenticated and secure digital signatures is being provided by GlobalSign partner Triedata. With ClerkECertify, users can order and immediately receive certified copies of final judgments, land records, court records and other public documents through a secure web portal. On the other side, government agencies, public institutions, banks and other entities can use the portal to authenticate the documents’ digital signature and security to confirm that the documents have not been altered.

The courts move toward digital signatures has helped with efficiency and lowered resource usage by removing paper from many everyday processes.

“Florida has been on the forefront of accepting digital signatures, but there is also a significant need for security,” said Lila Kee, who heads up project management at GlobalSign. She says the company has seen a high rate of adoption within Florida. “Florida law is pretty prescriptive about having verifiable signatures, which makes it different from many states.”

The US is behind other countries when it comes to digital signature security. Many states accept digital signatures without a lot of rules about authenticity. Meanwhile, Europe and other countries have set specific rules about personal information and signature validation. Kee expects that the US will move toward similar standards so that paperwork originating in the US that involves global counterparties will be in compliance with these rules. “We have seen a few cases go forward in the US challenging the validity of an electronic signature, but the real push is likely going to come from the need to harmonize with global regulations. Users tend to support this trend because there is a growing concern around fraud and information security,” Kee said.

GlobalSign is planning to roll out the solution through Triedata to other municipalities this year.