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IRIS OpenSpace v's other e-signing software

thinking of using Openspace

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Now that openspace integrates with Taxfiler, we are thinking of using it for e-signing of documents instead of our current provider Adobe Sign.

The downside I can see is that the client has to create their own login with openspace, it is hard enough to get them to click a couple of times to sign using Adobe and I fear that many clients will just not bother with having to create yet another account somewhere, at least with Adobe they do not have to create an account/remember the logon details etc.

Does anyone have any experience or views on this?

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By johnhemming
31st Aug 2019 20:36

What I find interesting about this is the legal question as to what is a valid digital signature. The sort of digital signatures that are used for websites are big numbers that are calculated based upon encrypting an electronic summary of the thing being signed using some form of cryptographic algorithm. Those are very difficult to forge.

If directors are signing jointly a document issued by companies house for say striking off a company or LLP then that is only really done by knowing that the email address is one that receives the request for signature.

Court documentation can be signed by a digital signature being an image of the signature of a person. Obviously there is a contempt of court committed if someone forges one of these.

Without setting up a system whereby you can prove cryptographically who the person is attaching a cryptographic signature to a document there is really no advantage to having a cryptographic signature.

Hence such systems are only really authenticated to the extent that you trust the email address you are using to send the documents to someone.

Systems which require an account have a number of advantages in that they might have a log of the IP address of the person agreeing something (much the like the anti-fraud headers for MTD)

From a GDPR perspective using account based systems if designed properly can create more control on the transfer of attachments than emails which can easily be sent to the wrong person. (Encrypting the attachment does not help that much if the password is also emailed even in a separate email)

However, a lot of this comes down to the details of implementation.

Legally an unauthenticated digital signature is probably much like someone just typing I agree in an email. However, obviously email can be hacked - and often is.

I don't know if there are any legal precedents anywhere.

Hence I would think an account based system is almost certainly better than something which is not account based (ie where the client has an account). I am not personally persuaded that most of the signature based systems do that much beyond someone just agreeing in an email. I accept that there could be more in those systems and they could be doing things like tracking the IP address or other information, but I don't know.

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By NH
01st Sep 2019 06:48

Thanks but my question was nothing to do with the legalities of one system above another, I am simply interested in people's opinions as to the experience for the client

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Replying to NH:
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By johnhemming
01st Sep 2019 07:16

From a client's perspective I have had the same accountants for over a decade and all I do is write "I agree" in an email.

I am happy with that.

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Replying to johnhemming:
By Tim Vane
01st Sep 2019 21:13

johnhemming wrote:

From a client's perspective I have had the same accountants for over a decade and all I do is write "I agree" in an email.

I am happy with that.

I think you’ve missed the point. Digital signatures are for protecting us, not the client. Any accountant that’s had a dispute with a client about what’s been filed will appreciate that.

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Replying to Tim Vane:
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By johnhemming
01st Sep 2019 21:39

Which is why my original response looked at the legalities. It is always worth getting confirmation in writing. There is little practical difference between an email saying ok and some approaches to digital signing.

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Replying to johnhemming:
By Tim Vane
02nd Sep 2019 00:46

johnhemming wrote:

There is little practical difference between an email saying ok and some approaches to digital signing.

The former has a level of ambiguity and uncertainty that is not present in the latter, partly because email replies rarely include the original attachments.

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Replying to Tim Vane:
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By johnhemming
02nd Sep 2019 09:55

That is a valid point, but if the text of the email contains a reference code that links to the particular version of a document then it is just as provable.

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By daniel_
02nd Sep 2019 11:19

In a similar situation to you.

Made the decision to stick with Adobe Sign as there's no need for the client to create an account.

Adobe Sign comes with 20GB of cloud storage for documents uploaded. Openspace charge much more for the same amount of storage.

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Replying to daniel_:
By ChrisScullard
03rd Sep 2019 12:00

daniel_ wrote:

In a similar situation to you.

Made the decision to stick with Adobe Sign as there's no need for the client to create an account.

Adobe Sign comes with 20GB of cloud storage for documents uploaded. Openspace charge much more for the same amount of storage.

Be slightly careful with Adobe Sign. I've recently had comms from them explaining I've been exceeding their (very well hidden) fair use policy and as a result my costs will increase 100 fold.

Got one of my team looking at alternatives as I type.......

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Caroline
By accountantccole
02nd Sep 2019 12:40

We've got instructions (hidden) on our website, emails asking clients to sign have a link to this. Have a few clients who struggle but generally it works

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By Duggimon
02nd Sep 2019 14:03

Openspace login IDs are the client's email address. Passwords are set by the client but can be reset at any time so long as they have access to their email address.

When we email clients to advise we've sent them documents on OpenSpace, we generally mention that there's an option to reset their password if they can't log in.

We've had no real issues with any of this this from clients, no complaints about the need for a login ID, they generally accept that a secure portal like this is a good thing for everyone.

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By JD
05th Sep 2019 10:17

From an initial look OpenSpace is looking too simplistic. The workflow for sending a single return to a single client is good.

However I have not worked out yet if it can deal with real life where one would send accounts, tax returns, letter and invoice ''combined into one document'' for signature/approval by more than one individual. The last thing a client would want is multiple emails each with separate documents and with different bits going to different people - Of course I may be being dense as far as how this works

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By NH
10th Sep 2019 16:11

Well now I have my answer, tried Openspace with 2 clients, both completely ignored my request. I sent the same using Adobe Sign and the documents were signed within minutes!

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