CLIN is raising the alarm about the pending SECURE Act (H.R. 3962). The bill fails to include basic consumer protections and will impose federal pre-emption.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, UNITED STATES, July 14, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — CLIN is raising the alarm about the pending SECURE Act (H.R. 3962). The bill fails to include basic consumer protections afforded by official seals and notary journals. Worse, the bill will enable federal pre-emption of state policy-setting for remote online notarization and electronic notarization that currently is controlled exclusively by the states. The result will be diminished consumer protections, greater ease of impersonating notaries, and ultimately increased fraud.
The SECURE Act represents the second time in US history that federal regulation of notaries has been proposed. The first such attempt – the IRON Act – was vetoed by President Obama (2010) on the basis of consumer protection concerns. The IRON Act had included a minimum requirement for notaries to use an official seal on paper documents and a secure signing credential for electronic documents. Thus, the IRON Act actually represented a higher level of electronic document security than the level proposed by the SECURE Act.
No notary association has offered support for the SECURE Act.
The bill addresses three topics: 1) mandates federal and state courts to accept any out-of-state paper notarization without need for an official seal which is in conflict with federal and state rules of evidence and seal requirements in over 40 states; 2) provides for in-person authorization in conflict with previously granted authorization in the federal ESIGN law (2000) and state enactments of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and other e-notarization specific laws; and 3) mandates that all states extend the personal jurisdiction of notaries to enable both remote online notarization (RON) and remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) contrary to the current policies of many states.
The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Technology and Science Section members also are raising concerns about the SECURE Act’s federal pre-emption of existing notary laws that states have implemented to prevent fraud and provide enhanced consumer protection. A letter describing these concerns can be found here. As an example, the SECURE Act’s technology neutrality provisions will pre-empt consumer protection requirements for notaries to use digital certificates or secure digital identification credentials. Thirty-six states currently have technology specific provisions either for notaries or signers that will be federally pre-empted.
The CLIN will continue to monitor and provide updates on the status of this bill. While we support policy that strengthens the Office of Notary Public and enhances access to notarial services for consumers, we are aligned with the ABA’s concerns. Any federal legislation regarding electronic and remote online notarization should not pre-empt existing state laws that ensure reliable notarization of documents and best suits each state’s unique needs.