In July 2019, House Bill 409 was signed into law, setting an effective date of January 1st, 2020 for remote online notarizations to be legally completed by a Florida notary public. In a historic change of process, remote online notarization removes the physical presence requirement that most people are familiar with in a traditional notarization process. An online notary and the signer are no longer required to be physically in the same location. House Bill 409 defines the processes and procedures to become an online notary and technical requirements that allow a notary to execute a fully online notarization.
In a remote online notarization session, a notary will connect to a signer through an online audio/video session then digitally sign and notarize their documents. The online notarization process in Florida has defined security requirements and compliance standards to elevate the security of an online notarization above a traditional in-person notarization. There are a few key principles that the law has included which create a more secure notarization process: identity verification, audio-video recording, tamper-evident documents, data storage standards and audit trails.
House Bill 409 has defined specific requirements to ensure the security of the identity verification process. The bill does this by requiring a two-step identity verification process, knowledge-based authentication and credential analysis. A Florida online notary is required to present knowledge- based authentication questions known as “KBA” questions. KBA questions are personalized questions sourced from public and private data sources that only the signer should know the answers to. KBA questions help an online notary identify that the signer is who they say they are. The next step in the process is credential analysis, since a notary is not able to physically check the validity of a government issued ID, an online notary is required to use the assistance of 3rd party credential analysis soft ware to programmatically check for security features to validate the legitimacy of the ID the remote signer is presenting. The signer is also required to display the ID to the notary on video so the notary can see it’s physically present with the signer.
Validation of a notary session has always been difficult in a traditional in-person notarization process. But, in an online notarization session the audio and video of the session are recorded and stored for no less than 10 years by state requirement. A digital audit trail is also built and stored through the online process for historical reference. All this history and data storage is rendered useless if you cannot validate the authenticity of the document itself. Which is why Florida requires all digitally notarized documents to be rendered tamperevident and independently verifiable. Most online notarization vendors do this by using a X.509 certificate from a 3rd party certificate authority. By sealing a digital document with a X.509 certificate, anyone who has the digital document can validate if the document has been tampered with since the notary sealed it.
As you can see, House Bill 409 is the beginning of an exciting era for notaries in Florida. Using online notarization soft ware, online notaries in Florida can notarize documents for anyone in the world. With digital transformation having already impacted so many industries, it was just a matter of time before the digitization of the notary public came to fruition. Joseph Bisaillon