California Passes RON Legislation
September 14, 2023
California joined 44 other states that have passed legislation allowing for remote online notarization (RON). Senate Bill 696, which awaits the signature of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, authorizes a notary located in the state to perform RON.
As originally proposed, the bill was to have become effective Jan. 1, 2025, but that language was stripped out of the final legislation. SB 696 sets a tentative deadline of Jan. 1, 2030, for the Secretary of State to complete a technology project needed to support online notarizations.
Some of the key requirements of the bill say:
- The notary public shall retain the audio-video recording on an encrypted storage device or encrypted online media that is accessed by the notary public with secure multifactor means of authentication. The audio-video recording shall be created in an open format and shall not include images of any electronic record that was the subject of the online notarization.
- A notary public shall take reasonable steps to ensure that any registered device used to create an electronic signature or electronic seal is current and has not been revoked or terminated by the device’s issuing or registering authority.
- In performing an online notarization, a notary public authorized to perform online notarizations shall verify the identity of a principal by satisfactory evidence that meets the requirements regulations adopted by the Secretary of State. This includes:
- Remote presentation of a credential by the principal
- Credential analysis
- Identity proofing of the principal
- A notary public shall record each online notarial act performed by the notary public in one tangible sequential journal and one or more secure electronic journals.
The remaining states that have not passed RON for real estate transactions include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. Connecticut’s RON legislation does not apply to real estate.
At the federal level, ALTA and a coalition of more than 100 other businesses and trade associations sent a letter in May to Sens. Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) expressing support for the bipartisan Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act (SECURE). Sens. Cramer and Warner introduced S. 1212 in April. The bill has been referred to Senate Judiciary Committee. The house passed its version of the ALTA-supported SECURE Act by a voice vote in February.
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