The Office of General Counsel issued the following informal opinion on November 26, 2002, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
In order to use electronic signatures, must one use Public Key Infrastructure, (hereinafter PKI) technology?
No. The Department neither endorses nor restricts the type of technology that may be used by those regulated by the Department to implement an electronic signature.
The inquirer presented no facts.
As reported in the September 3, 2002 Supplement No. 1 to Circular Letter No. 33 (1999), on August 6, 2002 a new law was enacted, Chapter 314 of the Laws of 2002, which amended Article 1 of the New York State Technology Law, known as the Electronic Signatures and Records Act (ESRA). In this new law, the definition of the term "electronic signature" was amended to mean a ". . . sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record." N.Y. State Tech. Law § 102(3) (McKinney 2002).
As the inquirer noted, the Rules and Regulations controlling electronic signatures located at N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 9 § 540.4 (2002) was not subsequently amended after the enactment of the statutory amendments to ESRA in which the Office of Technology retains its authority to promulgate regulations regarding requirements for electronic signatures. However, currently, N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 9 § 540.4 (2002) is consistent with the statutory amendments to ESRA.
Because the State encourages the development of technology overall, it will not recommend one system or brand over another. PKI ". . . is a framework of procedures . . . [that] relies on specific hardware and software systems as well as appropriate infrastructure. . . ." Giesecke & Devrient, PKI Technology at http://www.gdm.de/eng/products/03/index.php4?product-id=422 (last visited Nov. 14, 2002). You may feel free to contact the Office for Technology to discuss PKI, and/or any other technology issues.
For further information you may contact Senior Attorney Susan A. Dess at the New York City Office.