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RULE §203.23Digital Signatures

(a) This section applies to all written electronic communications which are sent to a state agency over the Internet or other electronic network or by another means that is acceptable to the state agency, for which the identity of the sender or the contents of the message must be authenticated, and for which no prior agreement between the sender and the receiving state agency regarding message authentication existed as of the effective date of this section. This section does not apply to or supersede the use and expansion of existing systems:

  (1) for the receipt of electronically filed documents pursuant to the Texas Business and Commerce Code or other applicable statutory law where the purpose of the written electronic communication is to comply with statutory filing requirements and the receiving state agency or local government is not a party to the underlying transaction which is the subject of the communication; or

  (2) for the electronic approval of payment vouchers under rules adopted by the comptroller of public accounts pursuant to applicable law.

(b) Prior to accepting an electronic signature, a state agency shall ensure that the level of security used to identify the signer of a message and to transmit the signature is sufficient for the transaction being conducted. A state agency that accepts digital signatures may not effectively discourage the use of electronic signatures by imposing unreasonable or burdensome requirements on persons wishing to use electronic signatures to authenticate written electronic communications sent to the state agency.

(c) A state agency that accepts electronic signatures shall not be required to accept a digital signature that has been created by means of a particular acceptable technology described in §203.24 of this chapter.

(d) A state agency shall review and consider any applicable guidelines as described in §203.20 of this chapter and recommendations that have been adopted by the department in determining whether and for what purposes the state agency shall accept a digital signature. A copy of such guidelines and recommendations may be obtained directly from the department, or may be obtained electronically via the department's website.

(e) A state agency shall ensure that all written electronic communications received by the state agency and authenticated by means of a digital signature in accordance with this section, as well as any information resources necessary to permit access to the written electronic communications, are retained by the state agency as necessary to comply with applicable law pertaining to audit and records retention requirements.

Source Note: The provisions of this §203.23 adopted to be effective November 28, 2004, 29 TexReg 10710; amended to be effective September 20, 2011, 36 TexReg 6143; amended to be effective November 23, 2015, 40 TexReg 8191; amended to be effective November 23, 2017, 42 TexReg 6506

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