We only accept Originals.



  • At the end of my first week on a new contract, I submitted a copy of my invoice to the accounting department.  The invoice is simply a list of days, the number of hours worked each day, the total amount to be paid, and my signature saying that yes I did indeed bill you.  In short, nothing special.

    The entire thing, including my signature, is applied in MS Word and converted to PDF before sending.  About the only things I physically sign anymore are receipts; which I've taken to just drawing a smiley face on anyhow as nobody really cares or even bothers looking at anymore.

    This particular company doesn't accept invoices via email.  No problem, I printed it out and mailed it to them.  Upon receiving the invoice a "Staff Accountant II" sent me an email requesting the "original" invoice, stating that they had only received a copy.   The following is the email conversation:

    Staff Accountant II: Could you please forward me your original time sheet/invoice for week ending 9/18/08? What I received is a copy.
    Me: I’m not sure I understand, I could send it via email.  Could you clarify what you mean by original?
    Staff Accountant II: We just need the original invoice. You can send it via inter-office mail.
    Me: All I do is print it out and mail it.  It's as original as the next one I could print for you...
    Staff Accountant II: There is a rule in place whereby we pay from original invoices only.
    Me: What are the requirements for an invoice to be considered an "original"?
    Staff Accountant II: It must be signed.
    Me: The one I sent you is signed.   What are the other requirements?

    At this point, the accountant did the right thing and just called me.  The nut of it is that they need me to sign the page after it's been printed; he even suggested I use blue ink.

    At least the coffee is good.

     



  •  I must admit to not being surprised.  If you just send them something with a pre-printed signature, there is no way to tell that from something someone else made with a scanner.  A real signed document is stronger evidence.

     

    My employer forces us to file such documents on-line using a username/password....secure in a different way. 



  • @sibtrag said:

    A real signed document is stronger evidence.

    How so?  Anyone can copy a signature by hand if necessary.  Further there are mid range color laser printers that can reproduce documents in such a way that you couldn't tell one from a so called original. 

    I recall printers that Xerox had about 15 years ago that had to have a warning label applied stating that money was not allowed to be copied.  The reason was that the only way to tell the difference was by the paper used. 



  • @clively said:

    @sibtrag said:

    A real signed document is stronger evidence.

    How so?  Anyone can copy a signature by hand if necessary.  Further there are mid range color laser printers that can reproduce documents in such a way that you couldn't tell one from a so called original. 

    Can the printer reproduce the indentation a ball-point pen leaves on the paper?



    More seriously, an actual hand-written signature has a stronger legal standing than a printout or photocopy of one. If the document ever winds up being used as evidence in a court case, the lawyers would much rather have an actual signature on it.



  • @Carnildo said:

    More seriously, an actual hand-written signature has a stronger legal standing than a printout or photocopy of one. If the document ever winds up being used as evidence in a court case, the lawyers would much rather have an actual signature on it.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "stronger legal standing", but in most states an inked signature is considered the equal of a photocopied, faxed, rubber stamped or even telegraphed signature.  The point isn't what the signature is, but simply that both parties indicated agreement with the terms of the contract.  In that sense, there is no difference in legal standing, as far as I know*.  However, what about fraud?  Well, courts basically have concluded that photocopiers don't really make signature fraud significantly easier.  You can forge someone's signature with a pen as well.  Generally, the assumption is that the actual intent to enter into the contract can be determined by the court itself and that the actual signature is only what "seals the deal".  Courts consider contract fraud and signature forgery capable of being determined without the need for a strict set of criteria for the signature itself, only requiring that it be some mark that shows assent.

     

    * Contract law varies on a state-by-state basis so don't blame me if this isn't true for you.  IANAL. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    IANAL

    That is such an unfortunate acronym.

    With regards to the printed vs. handwritten signature - If movies and television haven't been lying to me all my life, which they undoubtedbly haven't, then fraud experts can detect a forged signature if written by hand by comparing samples. But if someone has scanned your signature into their computer and added it to some file, who's to say that it wasn't you who did that? Then again, maybe the digital file created from the scan would have some clues as to the machines used to create it. That's my 2c, and I'll email you the bill for it.



  • @Carnildo said:

    More seriously, an actual hand-written signature has a stronger legal standing than a printout or photocopy of one.
     

    And that's the WTF.  If you want to ensure a document's authenticity, PGP sign it.  Then it doesn't matter how many times it's copied, or even what medium it's copied to; and nobody can subtly replace page 2 with something else.

    Recent conversation between me and the VA Dept. of Taxation:
    them: We never got your W2 for 2006.
    me: Yeah, I remember that.  My employer lost it, but I sent you guys a copy the HR people gave me.
    them: Yeah, we need the original.  When you get it, fax it to [phone number]
    me: Um... You know a fax is inherently a copy, right?

    So rather than pay $50 to get a "real" W2 reprinted from the IRS, I just drudged up the same pdf from before, and faxed that to them.  It took like 2 months to process it, but they accepted it.
    Bonus quote from when I called them after a week asking if everything was cool: "That number goes to our fax server.  It's a computer, so it takes several weeks to process it.  It's not like a hard copy just sitting there that somebody can walk over and look at."  (The bold/italic part is there to represent her emphasis, not mine.  This lady was pretty condescending towards me for not knowing that computers are notoriously less efficient at storing/retrieving files than humans are)



  • @prueg said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    IANAL

    That is such an unfortunate acronym.

    With regards to the printed vs. handwritten signature - If movies and television haven't been lying to me all my life, which they undoubtedbly haven't, then fraud experts can detect a forged signature if written by hand by comparing samples. But if someone has scanned your signature into their computer and added it to some file, who's to say that it wasn't you who did that? Then again, maybe the digital file created from the scan would have some clues as to the machines used to create it. That's my 2c, and I'll email you the bill for it.

    OH MY FUCKING GOD. This is turning into the fucking heating up your hands while riding a bicycle phenomenon... Just think Glove!

    If you want it 100% indisputable get it notarized. End of discussion.

    If you get a letter signed with my name, there is no way it will hold up in court on that alone. You NEVER saw my IDs or any validity of my signature, therefore I could have signed Daffy Duck and you could not tell the difference. Hell my official signature could be Daffy Duck.

    This system described by the WTF is retarded. If they want 100% legal binding have a notary public hired by the company sitting there verifying that person X signed a document, say the purchase order. The idea of a signature is as morb point out the fact that you agree to the "contract" of this document. An X is enough, as long as it is undeniably your X and there is proof of it.

    Again for clarity: Get it notarized if you want 100% proof. The person doing the notarizing is taking the legal responsibility of assuring that to the best of their knowledge, person X signed the document. And they had to verify by state requirements (NY just required a legal ID (SS card, Passport, Driver License, Non-Driver License)).

    I think the system described by the WTF was thought up by a regular "dude" who thought that this is nice and legal without legal consultation. The person was paranoid, but not paranoid enough to implement it correctly.



  • @astonerbum said:

    (SS card, Passport, Driver License, Non-Driver License)
     

    Just wondering.. I can imagine what a social security card is, I know how a passport looks like, I own a driver's license. But WTF is a "Non-Driver License"? A document that confirms that you're not able to drive a car?

     

    Please help me on that. I'm confused. :-)



  •  Oh no - I can't edit my post.. So let me put this here:

    EDIT: Sorry, could've checked wikipedia before asking. Alright, so a Non-Driver License seems
    to be an identity document for anyone who's not allowed to drive a car
    (yet?), since there is no "official" identity document in the US
    (besides "SS" card, which comes without a photo?). That seems like "a
    dirty hack" to me. I actually prefer (for example) the german system,
    where every citizen needs to have either a Personalausweis or passport
    as soon as they are 16.

     



  • @Juifeng said:

    That seems like "a
    dirty hack" to me. I actually prefer (for example) the german system,
    where every citizen needs to have either a Personalausweis or passport
    as soon as they are 16.
     

    1) What does "Personalausweis" translate to in English?  My limited knowledge of linguistics is saying that it's closer to just an ID card than it is to a drivers' license.  Requiring everybody to get either a driver's license or a passport seems impractical.  The driver's license entails driving priveleges (and there's a test to obtain it).  People who don't drive, don't need a driver's license.  People who don't travel out of the country don't need a passport, but I guess there's no problem getting one of those just-in-case.

    2) How do German drivers carry proof of their driving priveleges?  Or do you just let everybody drive?  American non-driver IDs are there because we grew accustomed to using driver's licenses as a generic ID, but plenty of people in big cities don't drive... So they get an ID card instead.  I'd say an "either-or" system is better than one that would require me to carry both an ID card and a driver's license in my wallet.

    3) I don't understand why Americans are so afraid of identification documents.  Sure, there's the nutjobs who think it's the mark of the beast or whatever, but there's been plenty of other unfounded opposition to any sort of national standard for ID cards.  Fact is a system like that would make it easier and cheaper to authenticate an ID, and would cut down on user of fake out of state IDs



  • I think you just answered your own question:

    1. "Mark of the beast"; how many of these "national standard" systems have involved some sort of implant and/or trackable chip? People don't generally like the idea of "the man" knowing precisely where they are at all times.
    2. People want to be able to use fake out of state IDs. :-p


  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    1) What does "Personalausweis" translate to in English? My limited knowledge of linguistics is saying that it's closer to just an ID card than it is to a drivers' license.  Requiring everybody to get either a driver's license or a passport seems impractical.  The driver's license entails driving priveleges (and there's a test to obtain it).  People who don't drive, don't need a driver's license.  People who don't travel out of the country don't need a passport, but I guess there's no problem getting one of those just-in-case.

    Yeah, it's just an ID card. (translates to something like "personal ID") On top of that, we've got (of course)  passports, driver's license, Krankenversicherungskarte (card for public health insurance - I don't have one because my parents pay for a private insurance company) and a lot more. It's bureaucracy hell. ;-)

    I also don't have a passport, as it's only needed to travel out of the "Schengen" countries. Those "Schenge" countries accept the German Personalausweis as ID, and Germany accepts their ID documents.

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    2) How do German drivers carry proof of their driving priveleges?  Or do you just let everybody drive?  American non-driver IDs are there because we grew accustomed to using driver's licenses as a generic ID, but plenty of people in big cities don't drive... So they get an ID card instead.  I'd say an "either-or" system is better than one that would require me to carry both an ID card and a driver's license in my wallet.

    We do have the same system, there is a test to obtain a driver's license, too. (And you have to learn driving at an official school, you can't just learn from your parents and then take the test.) Although you're not required to carry the Personalausweis (ID) with you, I do. It's not that bad. If you want, you may leave the ID at home and only carry the driver's license - most places where you'd need the ID will also accept the driver's license.

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    3) I don't understand why Americans are so afraid of identification documents.  Sure, there's the nutjobs who think it's the mark of the beast or whatever, but there's been plenty of other unfounded opposition to any sort of national standard for ID cards.  Fact is a system like that would make it easier and cheaper to authenticate an ID, and would cut down on user of fake out of state IDs
     

    I think Germany will introduce an ID with an integrated chip in a few years. Not too bad, as the personal data will be saved on the chip and not in a central database in Berlin. However, it'll use RFID. I really hate that idea and would love to keep my plain old non-chip ID.



  • @Juifeng said:

    Sorry, could've checked wikipedia before asking. Alright, so a Non-Driver License seems
    to be an identity document for anyone who's not allowed to drive a car
    (yet?), since there is no "official" identity document in the US
    (besides "SS" card, which comes without a photo?). That seems like "a
    dirty hack" to me. I actually prefer (for example) the german system,
    where every citizen needs to have either a Personalausweis or passport
    as soon as they are 16.

    Maybe it is just me but I prefer the British system where it is none of the government's business who I am so they cannot issue or ask for an identification card. If you need to identify yourself there are a couple of options and government-issued documents are not the only ones. Maybe this system is not that effective in preventing fraud, but it gives you a sense of freedom you could never feel if you were living in a country where the government thinks it is its duty to track its citizens.



  • @Juifeng said:

    I also don't have a passport, as it's only needed to travel out of the "Schengen" countries. Those "Schenge" countries accept the German Personalausweis as ID, and Germany accepts their ID documents.

    I think you are a bit confused here. Schengen is a border control / visa agreement and has nothing to do with accepting National ID cards at international borders. Schengen abolished border control between member states and introduced a common visa policy. I think you was thinking about the European Economic Area, which is basically the European Union and the EFTA together. Indeed there is a EEA treaty which enables EEA citizens to travel to other EEA countries with just a National ID card only. Some examples: The United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen Agreement, but the Immigration Service officers will accept your National ID card with a funny name at London Heathrow airport, since the UK is a member of the EU, hence it is a member of the EEA. Other example: Norwegian border control officers will accept your National ID as well, even though Norway is not a member state of the European Union. That's because Norway is a member of EFTA, hence it is a member of EEA.



    EDIT: It seems that the UK has partially joined the Schengen Agreement in the meantime and that Norway has apparently signed the Schengen Agreement even though it is not a EU Member State. That doesn't change the fact that the Schengen Agreement has nothing to do with accepting National ID cards at international borders though.



  • @DrJokepu said:

    Maybe it is just me but I prefer the British system where it is none of the government's business who I am so they cannot issue or ask for an identification card. If you need to identify yourself there are a couple of options and government-issued documents are not the only ones. Maybe this system is not that effective in preventing fraud, but it gives you a sense of freedom you could never feel if you were living in a country where the government thinks it is its duty to track its citizens.
     

     Really? I hadn't noticed the British didn't have IDs on them. I live in a country where you're obliged by law to carry one. Not that anyone's gonna stop you on the street and ask to see it, but if say you're involved in a car accident, they'll ask you for it. Still some people carry them along and others don't. Worst thing that can happen is the cops will drive you to the station to establish your identity. In any case if I lived in the UK and was worried the goverment would track me I'd be far more worried about the CCTV cameras on virtually every corner than carrying an ID.

    How do the British identify themselves anyway? Driver's license?



  • @DOA said:

    Really? I hadn't noticed the British didn't have IDs on them. I live in a country where you're obliged by law to carry one. Not that anyone's gonna stop you on the street and ask to see it, but if say you're involved in a car accident, they'll ask you for it. Still some people carry them along and others don't. Worst thing that can happen is the cops will drive you to the station to establish your identity. In any case if I lived in the UK and was worried the goverment would track me I'd be far more worried about the CCTV cameras on virtually every corner than carrying an ID.

    How do the British identify themselves anyway? Driver's license?


    You are very rarely required to identify yourself with a photo ID, usually that only happens of you want to buy alcohol or cigarette or something like that so your age can be checked. Motorist are required to have a driving licence, but as it was mentioned in an earlier thread, they are not required to carry it on themselves while driving. The police cannot ask you to identify yourself. When you are dealing with the government, you might need a government-issued photo ID, like a driving licence, a passport or something similar. Keep in mind that in this country people seldom deal directly with the government; things are usually sorted out in mail, or recently, on the internet and you only need to arrange an interview or a meeting with a government official if it is absolutely required. Other businesses, like banks, usually only ask for a proof of address, which is basically any sort of official letter addressed to you.


    About the CCTV issue: All CCTV recording are subject to the Data Protection Act. You can find a public notice board around these cameras informing you about the basic details, like if the camera actually records things, for how long the recordings are kept, and where you can get them. However, making video footages of people in public is hardly a breach of privacy. CCTV cameras cannot do anything that a police officer cannot do.



  • @Juifeng said:

    It's bureaucracy hell.
     

    Well, it's just how things work: You are 16 or older? You need an ID card (basically the same as a password without the red/black/green/whatever paper cover...). You want to drive? You need a driver's license. You take advantage of public health insurance? You get a card, so the doctor does not have to type in your health insurance number every time. I don't think it's that bad...

    @Juifeng said:

    Although you're not required to carry the Personalausweis (ID) with you, I do. It's not that bad. If you want, you may leave the ID at home and only carry the driver's license - most places where you'd need the ID will also accept the driver's license.

    You need to be able to authenticate yourself when you're asked to do so. As far as I know the only valid authentication is your ID card, so it must be carried at all times. They may also accept a driver's license, but as you are not required to renew it (unless it is unreadable for some reason) the photo on it may be quite old and not "look like you" anymore, so they can ask you for additional authentication (ID card). Also, the driver's license does not state your current home address, as opposed to your ID card, so it is generally a good idea to carry both.

    @Juifeng said:

    Not too bad, as the personal data will be saved on the chip and not in a central database in Berlin.

    To be honest, I'd rather see my data on a centralized secure server instead of a cheap RFID card which can be read by anybody with the right equipment...

    @Juifeng said:

    I don't understand why Americans are so afraid of identification documents.

    I was 25 when I last visited Seattle in 1999. We went to the Bumbershoot Festival and they had a beer garden. It was surrounded by a 1,5m fence and the only entrance was blocked by two security guards (WTF #1: The fence was completely opaque. Maybe to protect those under age from seeing whatever there was to be seen...). WTF #2: They would not let me in, even though I showed them my German ID card (as said above: same as an internationally accepted passport, but no paper, just the plain plastic card), my European Driver's license and my University student card. All of them showed my name and date of birth, two of them showed my photo (and a recent one too). I tried to argue, but "ID card is not a passport", "only Canadian or US driver's license accepted", "no photo on student card". (WTF #3: Even our 50 year old host had to show her passport...).

    So apart from your ridiculous drinking laws you expect visitors to your country to carry a passport at all times? Well, luckily German beer's better than yours :-D



  • @tdittmar said:

    Well, luckily German beer's better than yours :-D
     

    And Belgian beer is even better! Our "tripel Karmeliet" was crowned world's best Ale 2008

    http://www.beers-of-the-world.com/wba08/index.php

    Let's not restart the whole ID card discussion please. Let's talk beer!



  • @bjolling said:

    @tdittmar said:

    Well, luckily German beer's better than yours :-D
     

    And Belgian beer is even better!


    Unfortunately for you, neither German nor Belgian lager is match for Czech beer. This is a fact. It is proven by mathematicians.



  • @DrJokepu said:

    @bjolling said:

    @tdittmar said:

    Well, luckily German beer's better than yours :-D
     

    And Belgian beer is even better!


    Unfortunately for you, neither German nor Belgian lager is match for Czech beer. This is a fact. It is proven by mathematicians.

    Well, that's fine for me - as long as we're ranked better than US beer :-D

    My goodness, my Guinness!



  • I also see the OP's ignorance of such use of originals TRWTF. Maybe in many circles it works, but wherever you don't take people's general obedience as granted you do require stronger evidence of their intent, don't you?

    Some of you seem to be thinking that there are only two shades of "legal standing strength" - "I will prove my case if brought to court" no-brainer signatures vs. "100%" notarised/cryptographic ones. There's always more than that. "Proving" takes opposing your arguments' and lawyers' strength to the opponent's ones. And one may very well get a point arguing "this very specific arrangement of ink molecules establishing what actually happened" against "that sloppy kid photoshoppable doc supporting the liar's case".



  • @tdittmar said:

    @DrJokepu said:

    @bjolling said:

    @tdittmar said:

    Well, luckily German beer's better than yours :-D
     

    And Belgian beer is even better!


    Unfortunately for you, neither German nor Belgian lager is match for Czech beer. This is a fact. It is proven by mathematicians.

    Well, that's fine for me - as long as we're ranked better than US beer :-D

    My goodness, my Guinness!

    There's plenty of great beer made in America, but it's not made on a large scale, like your Budweiser/Miller/Coors. Go into any bar in an American city and ask "what are the local brews?" and you're likely to get something you'll like, as long as you're not in Denver (Coors), St. Louis (Bud), or Milwaukee (Miller) and someone offers the cheap American beer as the "local" brew.

    However, I agree that the Belgians do beer right.  Most of the really good American beer I've had has been "Belgian Style" ales, and some of the best beer I've ever had was from Belgium.



  • That number goes to our fax server.  It's a computer, so it takes several weeks to process it.

     This made me physically cringe.



  • Hand-written signature

    There's more to a signature than the shape of the ink trail.  There are also details of the roller-ink-paper interaction that indicate where the writer paused and how fast the pen moved.  An expert could distinguish between an authentic signature and a forger's attempt to duplicate it slowly.

    I doubt your client will ever have your signature analyzed.  But the big boss wants it that way and the staff accountant is doing his best to help you pass muster.  If you're really so lazy that you can't sign a piece of paper then try printing the invoice with your signature in blue.  They'll probably never notice. 



  • @Juifeng said:

    @astonerbum said:

    (SS card, Passport, Driver License, Non-Driver License)
     

    Just wondering.. I can imagine what a social security card is, I know how a passport looks like, I own a driver's license. But WTF is a "Non-Driver License"? A document that confirms that you're not able to drive a car?

     

    Please help me on that. I'm confused. :-)


    Its an official ID like the driver license except you can't drive a car. Its like a driver license but has NON-DRIVER in big-bold-friendly letters printed in front.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    This lady was pretty condescending towards me for not knowing that computers are notoriously less efficient at storing/retrieving files than humans are)

    This is a government agency.  Not only that, it's essentially VA's IRS.  If there was a way of less efficient way of storing/retrieving files than by hand, they surely would have invented it by now. 



  • @tdittmar said:

    So apart from your ridiculous drinking laws you expect visitors to your country to carry a passport at all times?

    No, the bar had that as a requirement.  They are free to refuse service to anyone and if they didn't feel confident enough in the authenticity of your IDs.  That doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

     

    @tdittmar said:

    Well, luckily German beer's better than yours :-D

    Even as a joke, this isn't funny.  German beer is disgusting.  As far as European beers go, Belgium and England are pretty good.  German and Czech beers can choke on a bucket of cocks.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    3) I don't understand why Americans are so afraid of identification documents.  Sure, there's the nutjobs who think it's the mark of the beast or whatever, but there's been plenty of other unfounded opposition to any sort of national standard for ID cards.  Fact is a system like that would make it easier and cheaper to authenticate an ID, and would cut down on user of fake out of state IDs

    It would also make it easier for the Federal government to data mine the state databases and track the movements of individual Americans.  It also opens the door towards requiring a national ID for virtually every transaction.  The classic liberalism that this country was founded on asks the question "What is the justification for allowing the government to restrain this particular liberty and what possible ways can it be abused?" not "What do individuals have against yet another government restriction of liberty?"  The real question is what possible reason is there for allowing the Federal government the authority to impose identification requirements on its masters?  Is a slight savings in terms of the cost of authenticating ID and a reduction in the number of fake out-of-state IDs worth it?  Fake out-of-state IDs are mostly used for underage purchasing of alcohol.  Not only are a good deal of people on this forum probably guilty of violating the alcohol laws, but what significant harm can be shown as a result of fake IDs?



  • @DrJokepu said:

    About the CCTV issue: All CCTV recording are subject to the Data Protection Act. You can find a public notice board around these cameras informing you about the basic details, like if the camera actually records things, for how long the recordings are kept, and where you can get them. However, making video footages of people in public is hardly a breach of privacy. CCTV cameras cannot do anything that a police officer cannot do.

    Have to disagree with you there, chief.  For one, just because there is a law in place now that protects the recordings does not mean they will always be protected under that law.  All it takes is an act of the legistlature to change all of the rules.  Second, ubiquitous CCTV monitoring allows for extensive tracking of individuals.  As software gets better at data mining and pattern recognition, you can be sure systems will be able to identify an individual as soon as they enter into CCTV range and will be able to track them as they move throughout the surveillance area.  The statement "CCTV cameras cannot do anything a police officer cannot do" is false.  CCTV is always-on and has no ability to make reasonable decisions.  It sees everything and remembers perfectly, something a police officer cannot do.  This gives the government a significant advantage over the citizens in terms of information leverage.  The fact is, we all break laws every day and life goes on.  However, as the CCTV becomes more sophisticated this will give the government virtually unlimited ability to target individuals and harrass them for their minor infractions.  It also gives the government the ability to selectively "remember" anything it wants to.  Eyewitness accounts will become meaningless and although this will improve the accuracy of information, it is also allowing the government the discretion to "forget" things that are inconvenient.

     

    Finally, the fundamental idea that people in public do not have privacy is flawed.  You have a significant deal of privacy in public.  Things like whispers to companions are private even in the most public of circumstances, so long as that nobody else hears the whisper and thusly breaches the privacy.  However, omniscient surveillance will remove this barrier and ensure that your whisper is heard and possible recorded for all time.  This doesn't even require audio capabilities, just the ability to read lips.  You also have things like the privacy of your clothing and your possessions.  However, backscatter millimeter wave machines allow for the possibility to see through clothing and eventually technology will exist that allows detailed inspection of belongings.  Is that an infringement of privacy?  Where is the line drawn?  Obviously technology is going to change our definition of privacy significantly in the coming decades.  Eventually, we will probably end up in a state where everything is recorded by everybody all the time.  We will have to adapt to these changes while maintaining the core of our current privacy laws, which is the notion of balanced power.  Ultimately, our privacy laws exist in their current form to carefully regulate access to that most important of weapons: information.  We attempt to prevent an imbalance that would allow one party significant leverage over other parties.  The boundaries are mostly arbitrary, but they exist to prevent abuses, generally by governments but also by private citizens.  However, ever-present CCTV gives a huge advantage to the government in terms of information leverage and power.  It puts a powerful weapon into the hands of the agents of the government with little to no check on that power.  Laws do not matter because those are made by the governments.  It's essentially little more than a promise and promises can easily be broken.  With widespread CCTV there is no equivalent informational power in the hands of the individual to counter the government's power and keep it in check.  This is troublesome at best.



  • @AlpineR said:

    There's more to a signature than the shape of the ink trail. snip

    You're right.

    @AlpineR said:

    I doubt your client will ever have your signature analyzed.  But the big boss wants it that way and the staff accountant is doing his best to help you pass muster.

    You're also right that the staff accountant is trying to be helpful in a situation that was mandated to him. 

    However, in case you weren't paying attention the WTF is that they want MY signature on a document to prove that I didn't forge MY invoice to them.

    Under what situation would I (or anyone else for that matter) forge MY own invoice?  Either I'm billing $5000 or I'm not.  A signature, "original" or not, has no meaning in this situation.

    As a matter of fact, an invoice without a signature has exactly the same meaning. 



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    3) I don't understand why Americans are so afraid of identification documents.  Sure, there's the nutjobs who think it's the mark of the beast or whatever, but there's been plenty of other unfounded opposition to any sort of national standard for ID cards.  Fact is a system like that would make it easier and cheaper to authenticate an ID, and would cut down on user of fake out of state IDs

     

    It would also open us up to having to present identification to any government official who demands it.  Constitutionally, we are only required to identify ourselves verbally by name unless identification is required for some other purpose (such as operating a motor vehicle).



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    3) I don't understand why Americans are so afraid of identification documents.  Sure, there's the nutjobs who think it's the mark of the beast or whatever, but there's been plenty of other unfounded opposition to any sort of national standard for ID cards.  Fact is a system like that would make it easier and cheaper to authenticate an ID, and would cut down on user of fake out of state IDs

     

    It's called INS.  Neither the "american" themselves nor their employer is exactly thrilled by the idea of proof positive identification.  Best to keep things shady.

     



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Wall of text

    Well, I guess you're right. I mean, you have totally valid points and stuff.



  • Reminds me of an ecoupon I got recently:

    http://www.michaels.com/coupons/1000thstore/coupon.html

    If you take a look at the fine print you see these words:

    Reproductions not accepted

    So-- I have to hand over my laptop? A bucket full of bits? Or maybe my router?



  • @astonerbum said:

    If you want it 100% indisputable get it notarized. End of discussion.

    Is it impossible to get a stolen notary stamp, or a dishonest notary?



  • @SuperousOxide said:

    @astonerbum said:
    If you want it 100% indisputable get it notarized. End of discussion.

    Is it impossible to get a stolen notary stamp, or a dishonest notary?

    Notaries keep records of what they notarize and they would be called to testify, so the stolen notary stamp is meaningless.  A notary could be dishonest but there would be pretty severe penalties for that if caught and courts are pretty good about finding out the truth in those circumstances. 



  • @clively said:

    Under what situation would I (or anyone else for that matter) forge MY own invoice?  Either I'm billing $5000 or I'm not.  A signature, "original" or not, has no meaning in this situation.
     

    I think it's mostly a matter of company policy rather than a requirement for you personally.  The company wants all signatures to be originals, whether they're on $5,000 invoices or $10,000,000 construction contracts.  I don't know how much legal weight a real signature carries.  But I have signed and been witnessed on many important documents in my life and never used a notary, so I presume they're worth something.  Requiring a real signature on your invoice is more a problem of being over cautious than of being outright insane.

     As for who would forge your invoice?  Maybe an ex-employee who submits an invoice in your name but with his bank account number.  If you have no employees then fine, but somewhere there's a similar company with such a problem and the signature rule is meant to address it.



  • @AlpineR said:

    I don't know how much legal weight a real signature carries.  But I have signed and been witnessed on many important documents in my life and never used a notary, so I presume they're worth something.

    I explained above that a hand-written signature is usually no more "real" than a photocopied, faxed, stamped or telegraphed signature.  A forensic specialist could identify a hand-written signature and give it slightly more crediblity than a copy, but generally the preferred method is to use trusted third parties like witnesses, lawyers or notaries. 



  • @AlpineR said:

    But I have signed and been witnessed on many important documents in my life and never used a notary, so I presume they're worth something

    All a signature says is that someone wrote on a piece of paper.  It doesn't say that the other writing on the paper was there beforehand or not (think about blank contracts at car dealerships), nor does it imply that the person so named was the one who actually signed it.  Further, it doesn't even say that the particular markings are the person's traditional signature.  Which gets back to what I said before, an "original" signature is meaningless and, therefore, IMHO, a waste of time for something so trivial as a bill.

    BUT, let's let the law speak here:

    NH Supreme Court 1869 Howly v. Whipple:
    "It makes no difference whether [the telegraph] operator writes the offer or the acceptance in the presence of his principal and by his express direction, with a steel pen an inch long attached to an ordinary penholder, or whether his pen be a copper wire a thousand miles long. In either case the thought is communicated to the paper by the use of the finger resting upon the pen; nor does it make any difference that in one case common record ink is used, while in the other case a more subtle fluid, known as electricity, performs the same office."

    Ancient? Yes, but it set the stage for the ESIGN act signed by Clinton in 2000.  Section 106 part (5) basically says that the only thing that matters is that it was done by a person with intent to sign.

    If this ever came up as a legal question, their part in it would be much easier because all they have to prove is that I intended to sign that document as opposed to trying to prove that the "signature" was indeed mine. 

    So, explaining the WTF a little further: 8 years after it was passed into law, this company which incidentally has a .com in it's name, still requires someone to put some markings on a piece of paper.

     



  • @clively said:

    ...

    Like I said, the guy designing this was paranoid, wanted legal security BUT never actually consulted a lawyer or someone who would know. In other words the guy was stupid.



  • @Juifeng said:

    @astonerbum said:

    (SS card, Passport, Driver License, Non-Driver License)
     

    Just wondering.. I can imagine what a social security card is, I know how a passport looks like, I own a driver's license. But WTF is a "Non-Driver License"? A document that confirms that you're not able to drive a car?

     

    Please help me on that. I'm confused. :-)

     

     

    Perhaps a state issued ID card or maybe a motorcyle only license?



  • We had a discussion about electronically transmitted hand-written signatures a while ago on another newsgroup I frequent. The eventual consensus seemed to be that signatures are only useful if witnessed.

    If I see you sign a document then I am sure of your intention to honour the agreement.

    If I see you sign a credit card bill and compare it to a presigned one then I am sure you are the real owner of the card.

    If I get a collection of pixels in an email or from a fax machine then I have no surety.

    (Maybe replace "sure" with "mostly sure"?).

    If I see someone else requiring signatures on documents where they didn't see the person sign then I always ask them "why?".  Usually the answer is "because that's how we do it" (which is another WTF) but at least I try.

    Now this is by no means a legal definition. As above, using the unfortunate abbreviation, IANAL.

     

    B



  • Interesting.. here in the UK a large percentage of our customer base are invoiced by email and only get a PDF invoice. This is deemed acceptable by the UK tax authorities. The invoice PDF is password protected there has never been a requirement to sign one!



  • @havokk said:

    We had a discussion about electronically transmitted hand-written signatures a while ago on another newsgroup I frequent. The eventual consensus seemed to be that signatures are only useful if witnessed.

    If I see you sign a document then I am sure of your intention to honour the agreement.

    If I see you sign a credit card bill and compare it to a presigned one then I am sure you are the real owner of the card.

    If I get a collection of pixels in an email or from a fax machine then I have no surety.

    (Maybe replace "sure" with "mostly sure"?).

    If I see someone else requiring signatures on documents where they didn't see the person sign then I always ask them "why?".  Usually the answer is "because that's how we do it" (which is another WTF) but at least I try.

    Now this is by no means a legal definition. As above, using the unfortunate abbreviation, IANAL.

     

    B

    Once again, the signature is required by law to show that the contract was agreed with.  The signature itself does not serve much purpose as an identification tool and is rarely used as such.  Even with a credit card, you can sign the back in front of the cashier while making a purchase if the cashier notices it is unsigned.  The cashier's job is not to verify your identity and they are actually prohibited by law from requiring anything more than a credit card with a signature on the back.  Any disputed claims with a signed contract will require the person attempting to enforce the contract to prove intent to agree.  Witnesses (esp. lawyers, courts, gov't officers and notaries) are extremely good back-up for that, but there are plenty of other methods available.  Usually the importance of the contract influences this.  For a small contract, most people will just accept a digital signature or something with equal ease of forgery.  For a large one, they will require notaries and witnesses.  It's all a matter of how much the contract is worth to the parties who would attempt to enforce it.


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