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ISM Article

Time is money.

11 Dec, 2006 By: Tetsuo Kubo imageSource

Time is money.

"Time is money" is an old saying, but a new industry interpretation has been
added to it. That is, "Time stamp is money." Along with document conversion into
electronic forms, a variety of legal documents such as contracts or
money-related vouchers are now kept in electronic form thanks to the "e-Document
Law" which requires legal proof certifying the time an electronic document is
created and proof of security of originality. Further, corporate internal
control systems and compliance laws like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), require time
certification for many electronic documents. This creates a special demand on
time certificate service companies who provide time stamps, but has also
prevented "e-Document Law" from evolving into a strong reality as companies
hesitate to step forward due to large service fees. Regardless, ways are being
devised to deal with this.

Electronic documents were originated to share information within a company,
but have become important to authenticate information, such as documentary
evidence, while securing one’s privacy to prevent information leakage. The
electronic document with time stamp can prove that it existed at the time shown
and that it has not been revised from the time it was stamped.  Trusted
third-party time stamping authorities such as Amano and PFU, utilize Greenwich
Mean Time (GMT) to assure accuracy. Additionally, software that automatically
adds certifications when converting documents into electronic forms has appeared
to offer ease of use.

AT "e-Document Japan 2006" which was recently held at Tokyo Big Site, and
sponsored by Japan Image and Information Management Association (JIIMA) focused
on the preventing the alteration of electronic documents."

At the show, a leading software developer, HyperGear, launched its latest
product, HG/P Scan Serve Plus Pro 4.0  which features standard functionalities
of PDF conversion server software, digital signature, time stamp and long-term
signature storage.

In addition, an increased number of recently launched color MFPs are now
equipped with software that can automatically create PDFs from paper documents,
and apply digital signature and time stamps with a click of the "e-Document
measures" button. Remember, it does require a contract with a certification
service company, by the way. The certification process has become easier,   but
companies using it are still limited.  With the enforcement of e-Document Law,
fees have been lowered by 6.7 to 8.3 cents per stamp,  but certification costs
are still significant for companies who may have tens of thousands of receipts.

To address this, PFU started their fixed rate services in September.
Projected to cost companies an estimated $20,000, PFU’s product provides an
unlimited number of stamps at a pace of one time stamp per second. Amano also
showed their readiness to provide similar fixed rate service with lower costs
for larger companies, but the hurdle will be high for middle and small sized

Application for time stamps used to require proof that a document became
"intellectual property," down to the second. Now, certification requires no
alteration of a document, as dictated by the e-Document or SOX law. As for
receipts, e-Document law allows receipts under thirty thousand yen (with no time
certification to the second as long as the date is clear).

In my opinion, a single stamp, requirement for all electronic receipts, would
be more cost effective for companies while still providing authentication of
receipts.  This idea has possibility and is not inconsistent with the spirit of
the law.

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