[LINK] Signature-Checking [Was: Re: Electronic witnessing

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Jul 30 09:37:30 AEST 2010

Recent anecdote apropos of:

At 9:03 +1000 30/7/10, Tom Worthington wrote:
>Given that no one at the AEC is checking the signatures on the paper
>documents they get, there seems little point in creating a complex
>system of multiple digital signatures for the electronic equivalent.  ...

I'm the proud possessor of a bank account in a tax haven.  (The 
history is that I had an account with Nationwide Building Society 
when I worked in the UK in the late 1970s.  Some years later, they 
unilaterally transferred it to their subsidiary in the Isle of Man. 
Honest, yer honour).

International efforts to tighten up on tax havens are slowly working 
they way through.  Nationwide International in Douglas wrote to me 
recently threatening to cut me off from my funds with effect from a 
date about 6 weeks hence, unless I sent originals or certified copies 
of a bunch of documents that are the raw material of identity fraud.

I took particular exception to the clause that said, in relation to 
the documents demanded as evidence of identity, they "cannot be held 
responsible for their safety".

I'd already been annoyed with the collapse of their interest rates 
from about 4% to about 0.2%, and with their inability to provide any 
kind of credit-card or debit-card account.  So I said 'Forget it. 
Close the account with immediate effect and remit the funds'.

Then the fun started.  I faxed the instruction.  The lady at the 
other end said 'I need the original'.  I said 'read the Electronic 
Transactions Act'.  She said 'read the terms and conditions'.

But, in the process, she blurted out that they don't have a copy of 
my signature to compare against.  (They should have - from the 
original account-opening, at Moorgate in 1977;  plus prior faxes that 
I've sent on a couple of occasions).

So  ...  their risk assessment apparently concluded that there is 
greater protection against fraud in an unauthenticable signature on a 
hard-copy letter than in an unauthenticable signature on a fax ...

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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