State of California Offers Authenticated Electronic Legal Materials Online

State of California Offers Authenticated Electronic Legal Materials Online

Available at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

Diane Boyer-Vine, California Legislative Counsel, sent the following notice to the Northern California Association of Law Libraries.  As of, July 1, 2015, ca_capitol_image_2015the California Constitution, the statutes of the state, and the California Codes, will be available online in authenticated form.

The State of California is now publishing electronic legal materials online that for the first time provide the public with “blue ribbon” assurances the documents are authentic.

Authenticated California electronic legal materials are available to the public, thanks to the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act, which was chaptered into California law in 2012 to become operative on July 1, 2015. The complete law is found in Sections 10290-10300 of the Government Code.

The law specifies that the California Office of Legislative Counsel is the official publisher of certain legal materials in an electronic format that provides for authentication of the materials. The authentication method selected allows the user viewing the legal material to confirm the document is accurate.

Authenticated electronic legal materials and a variety of additional legislative information are available at the new California Legislative Information website – leginfo.legislature.ca.gov – maintained by the Office of Legislative Counsel.

The following California legal materials are available in authenticated form as of July 1, 2015:
(1) The California Constitution;
(2) The statutes of the state; and
(3) The California Codes.

The widely used PDF electronic document format is utilized to allow broad accessibility to the authenticated legal materials. Adobe Acrobat digital signature technology allows the public user to confirm the source of the PDF document and to verify it is authentic.  If the electronic legal materials are authentic, users see a “blue ribbon” icon and can click on a “State of California Authenticated Electronic Legal Material” digital blueribbonsignature seal of authenticity within the document to review authentication details. Free Acrobat Reader PDF viewing software is all that is required and the authentication works “offline” without an Internet connection.

In addition to authentication, the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act also requires the Office of Legislative Counsel to ensure all electronic records designated as official legal materials be preserved. Preservation of official electronic legal materials ensures the integrity of the records, provides for backup and disaster recovery of the records, and ensures the material will continue to be accessible, usable, and permanently available to the public.

Authentication and preservation technology gives electronic legal materials the same accuracy and reliability historically found only in official printed records. Authenticated electronic legal materials are available starting July 1, 2015, and will be available for following but not prior years.

Authentication of an electronic document does not apply to the printed version of that document. Therefore, a “State of California Authenticated Electronic Legal Material” digital signature seal of authenticity visible in a printed document does not attest to its authenticity.

Additional information is in this FAQ electronic_legal_ materials_ authentication_FAQ

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