This article examines past and future problems that notaries and cybernotaries face. The article discusses the lack of notaries' business worth because of their inadequate knowledge of their responsibilities and poor job performance. The authors explain the reasons for notaries' inadequate knowledge of their responsibilities, ranging from failure to test before commission renewal to failure to describe the duties of the office. In addition, the authors examine the reasons behind poor job performance, such as negligence, misunderstanding and even illegal conduct. The article discusses the procedure to become a notary, ranging from the qualifications to become a notary to the authority a notary retains. In addition, the article examines the liability of a notary and the lack of change the notary office has seen over the years. The heart of the article examines digital signature technology that is rapidly emerging. The problems as well as the benefits of digital signatures are addressed. The process of digital signatures works by using encryption and electronic "keys". The role of the cybernotary in verifying these digital signatures is important. As a third party, the cybernotary would be able to use the "keys" to bind each party. However, drawbacks of digital signatures do exist. Finally, state legislation, particularly Utah's digital signature legislation which serves as a benchmark for the discussion of other state statutes, is addressed. The authors offer suggestions as to what may improve the current practice of notaries and cybernotaries. The authors also examine everything from insurance requirements to absolute liability. In conclusion, legislators must enact legislation that recognizes technological growth as well as signifies the importance of notaries and cybernotaries.
Michael L. Closen & R. Jason Richards, Notaries Public - Lost in Cyberspace, or Key Business Professionals of the Future?, 15 J. Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 703 (1997)