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CES: (Another) Death Knell for the Fax Machine

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Fax machines aren’t exactly cutting-edge technology any more, and chances are, if you’ve used one lately, it was to send some kind of official document requiring a signature.

A new consumer product called Docusign in the e-signature space aims to eliminate even that odd fax encounter. The free software lets consumers create digital versions of their signature and initials to insert in emailed or scanned documents. A spokesman says the idea would be that consumers could eventually digitally send a signed permission slip for their child’s classroom field trip instead of trusting he won’t forget it in his backpack. (He says the company makes its money on a business product for sending digital contracts, invoices and the like.)

The product hews to requirements of the federal ESIGN Act of 2000, and sends document recipients an attachment explaining that the digital John Hancock is both legit and legally binding. But what’s to stop your kid (or anyone else) to perform the digital equivalent of forging your signature? The Docusign spokesman says the cloud based system is safer than printing and faxing documents, and that users must log in on the secure site to sign.


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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.