An Electronic signature is a representation of a person in the form of an electronic image of the handwritten signature, symbol, voiceprint, etc. It is typically attached to an electronic document or transaction. Electronic signatures have same legal standing as the handwritten signatures. The electronic signature ensures that the signatory is indeed the originator of the message.
Definitions of Electronic Signature: Uniform Electronic Transactions Act or "UETA" released by NCCUSL in 1999 -
Electronic signature means "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record."
ESIGN Act Sec 106:
The term 'electronic signature' means an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.
GPEA Sec 1710 definitions:
The term "electronic signature" means a method of signing an electronic message that -
- identifies and authenticates a particular person as the source of the electronic message; and
- indicates such person's approval of the information contained in the electronic message.
Difference between Electronic Signatures and Digital Signatures
There is a clear difference between digital and electronic signatures, though these terms are often used interchangeably. The digital signatures (also known as Advanced or Secure Electronic Signatures) use cryptographic techniques. They are based on industry standard known as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which guarantees data integrity and non-repudiation of documents and transactions. The digital signature cannot be copied, tampered or altered.
While an Electronic signature is just a representation of a person in the form of an electronic image of the handwritten signature, symbol, voiceprint, etc. It can be copied or tampered with.
Laws regarding use of electronic signatures:
- Croatia - Zakon o elektronickom potpisu - nn 10/02
- US - Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN)
- US - Uniform Electronic Transactions Act - adopted by 48 states (UETA)
- US - Digital Signature And Electronic Authentication Law
- US - Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA)
- US - The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
- UK - s.7 Electronic Communications Act 2000
- European Union - Electronic Signature Directive (1999/93/EC)
- China - Law of the People’s Republic of China on Electronic Signature (effective April 1, 2005)
- Mexico - E-Commerce Act 
- Costa Rica - Digital Signature Law 8454 (2005)
- Slovenia - Slovene Electronic Commerce and Electronic Signature Act
- South Africa - The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25, 2002