Electronic Signature Policy

Background

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) encourages the use of electronic signatures, transactions and electronic records whenever they can increase efficiency and save resources, as outlined below, as long as their use meets NYIT’s legal and security requirements outlined in this policy.

  • Streamlined operations – eliminate document scanning, re-keying of data, and error
  • Reduce costs – avoid printing, scanning, mailing, faxing, storing and disposal costs
  • Interacting with stakeholders in the way they want – digitally, from anywhere, with any device
  • Improved quality, timeliness, and accuracy of documents

Definitions

Approved electronic signature method is an electronic signature method that is in compliance with this policy and all applicable laws and regulations and appropriate for the circumstances in which the electronic signature is obtained.

In order to be approved, an electronic signature method must (see below required components of an electronic signature for further details):

  1. Include the ability to verify the identity of the signatory;
  2. Support the applicable business purpose and workflow; and
  3. Permit the information to be retrievable in the future and auditable.

Electronic record, or, “e-record,” is a record of information that is created, generated, sent, communicated, received or stored electronically.

Electronic signature, or “e-signature,” is an electronic sound, symbol or process, attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and used by a person with the intent to sign such record.

Scanned signature is a digital copy of a signature (converted to an electronic image file) derived from an original hand-written version.

Electronic transaction, or “e-transaction,” is an action or set of actions that is conducted or performed, in whole or in part, by electronic means and/or via electronic records.

Security procedure is a procedure that is employed to verify that an electronic signature, record, or performance is that of a specific person, to determine that the person is authorized to sign the document, and to detect changes or errors in the information in an electronic record. This includes a procedure that requires the use of algorithms or other codes, identifying words or numbers or encryption, callback, or other acknowledgment procedures.

User authentication is the process of securely verifying the identity of an individual prior to allowing access to an electronic NYIT service.

User authorization involves verifying that an authenticated user has permission to access specific electronic NYIT services and/or perform certain operations.

Scope

This policy applies to all members of the NYIT community (such as faculty, staff, and students) and governs all uses of electronic signatures and electronic records used to conduct official NYIT business.

This policy establishes the requirements for the use of electronic signatures at NYIT in lieu of handwritten signatures in connection with official NYIT business.

This policy establishes guidelines for academic and administrative units within NYIT to authorize the use of electronic signatures to the fullest extent permitted by law, using methods that are secure and practical, after identifying and evaluating the risk for each specific application.

This Policy does not mandate the use of electronic signatures or otherwise limit the rights of parties to conduct transactions on paper, nor does this Policy apply when applicable law(s) requires a handwritten signature on a paper record.

Approval of Electronic Signature Methods and Electronic Signature Uses

The following responsibilities and guidelines apply to electronic signature methods and uses at NYIT:

  1. NYIT’s Office of General Counsel (“OGC”), Finance, and Information Technology Services are responsible for approving all electronic signature methods and electronic signature uses.
  2. When approving an electronic signature method, NYIT Operational Departments will consider whether such method (a) appropriately verifies the identities of the signatories, (b) appropriately demonstrates their intent to sign the applicable record and (c) is in compliance with NYIT data security standards.
  3. Subject to appropriate departmental and/or school review and approval and all applicable laws and regulations, the following classes of transactions are standard electronic signature uses and are deemed to be pre-approved by NYIT Operational Departments:
    • Employment related transactions
    • Procurement related transactions
    • Enrollment related transactions
    • Financial aid related transactions, including Federal Work Study documentation
  4. All non-standard electronic signature uses must be approved NYIT Operational Departments prior to use. When reviewing requests for approval, the NYIT Operational Departments will consider the sensitivity, value and operational importance of the circumstances in which the electronic signature will be used.
  5. Electronic signature methods or electronic signature uses may be approved for particular electronic records, particular classes of electronic records, or particular units of NYIT.
  6. Each of the NYIT Operational Departments has the authority to revoke approval for any electronic signature method. NYIT Operational Departments may require that records signed using an electronic signature method that is no longer approved be signed again using an approved electronic signature method.
  7. To the fullest extent permitted by law, NYIT accepts e-signatures as legally binding and equivalent to handwritten signatures to signify an agreement.
  8. An electronic signature may not be valid if the individual did not have the authorization to sign an electronic record.
  9. NYIT designates that Adobe Sign is the preferred and supported e-signature method for NYIT business processes requiring e-signature methods.

Acceptance of Electronic Signatures from Third Parties

The following guidelines apply to the acceptance of electronic signature from third parties at NYIT:

  1. In general, when NYIT enters into a contract, or is a signatory to another type of document, in each case with a third party, NYIT and such third party should consent to the use and acceptance of electronic signatures.
  2. If NYIT is party to a business contract, if possible, the terms of the contract should evidence the use and acceptance of electronic signatures.

Exceptions to the Use of Electronic Signatures

The following types of documents require handwritten signatures on a paper record:

  • Certain promissory notes.
  • The Uniform Commercial Code, as in effect in any State, other than sections 1-107 and 1-206 and Articles 2 and 2A (mostly respecting bank documents, checks, letters of credit, securities and the like).
  • Court orders or notices, or official court documents (including briefs, pleadings and other writings) required to be executed in connection with certain court proceedings.
  • Any document required to accompany any transportation or handling of hazardous materials, pesticides or other toxic and dangerous materials.
  • Wills and testamentary trusts.
  • Notices involving mortgages or leases that could lead to the loss of a primary residence.
  • Certain notices of the cancelation or termination of health insurance, health benefits, or life insurance benefits.

If you are unsure whether a document may be signed electronically, you may consult OGC.

Violations and Sanctions

When using the approved electronic signature method at NYIT, be mindful of the following:

  1. It is a violation of this Policy for an individual to sign a record using an electronic signature in connection with any official NYIT activity on behalf of another individual unless the latter individual has granted the signing individual specific authority to do so.
  2. Individuals shall report any actual or suspected fraudulent activities relating to electronic signatures immediately to a manager or supervisor in the appropriate department, division or school.
  3. Employees who falsify electronic signatures or otherwise violate this Policy are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and criminal prosecution under applicable federal and state laws.
  4. Students who falsify electronic signatures or otherwise violate this Policy are subject to disciplinary action under the code of conduct applicable to such students and criminal prosecution under applicable federal and state laws.
  5. Other members of the NYIT community who falsify electronic signatures or otherwise violate this Policy are subject to appropriate sanctions, including, but not limited to, termination of their relationships with NYIT and criminal prosecution under applicable federal and state laws.