New VT notary law effective 1 July 2022

A new law for Vermont notaries go into effect today.

  • There are provisions about electronic notarization and remote online notarization, but those don’t go into effect until the Office of Professional Regulation makes rules about that.
  • For the past several years, notaries have not been allowed to make certified copies; that authority has been restored.
  • One type of certified copy a notary can make is a tangible (that is, paper) copy of an electronic document. If a person has an electronic notarized real-estate document but can’t get the town clerk to record it because it isn’t paper, now then can have a notary make a tangible certified copy of the electronic document and the town clerk is supposed to accept it.
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What’s your thoughts on this? Are you comfortable with it?

I’m not comfortable with RON. But I don’t know of any state that refuses to recognize documents that were notarized using RON. I also don’t know of any state that tries to prosecute an out-of-state notary who performs RON for a person physically located in their state. Unless VT took such measures, the only thing that not passing a RON law accomplishes is preventing VT notaries from participating in the RON marketplace.

As for certifying a tangible copy of an electronic document, I don’t think there are any adequate standards about how to screen an electronic document to see if it is authentic, nor are they any standards about what information in the document should be printed, and what may be ignored. For example, consider this document from the Federal Register, signed by the Government Publishing Office. If you click in the right spots you can find the statement “Reason: Government Publishing Office attests that this document has not been altered since it was disseminated by the Government Publishing Office”. If I just use the print function in Adobe Reader, that statement will not show up. Is that acceptable?

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Yeah, that was my main concern, was the copy certification of an electronic doc. I think if you go under “properties” for a PDF, it gives you the details of who/when the document was created, IF you can even get access to the electronic copy. I think anyone printing an electronic doc for copy purposes should also print out the properties for us as well. Give us something to work with.

The problem, as I see it, is that Adobe created the PDF standard to standardize how the pages of the document appear, whether printed or on screen. There is no step-by-step official procedure to print out the important properties (whatever those are). There is no standard way of presenting them, between Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader, or between different release numbers. And anybody can write a program to display PDF documents; each one can choose which properties to make available and how display them.

Another problem is there was never any intent to print the properties, only to show them on screen.

Hey @ashton. Pick any PDF file on your computer. Right click on it. Scroll down to “properties” in the drop down menu that appears. A “properties” tab will then open. Navigate through the different tabs you see at the top and click the “details” tab. You will see what I am talking about. It will tell you when the doc was created, and who the original owner of the doc is. It will even log entries if someone modified the doc, along with the date and time that happened as well. Let me know if you found what I’m talking about. You can do this with emails also.
This is just another one of those features in the digital world that confirms my belief that there are no “secrets” to keep anymore, and nothing EVER gets “truly” deleted!

Here is what I think you’re referring to:

These are the properties that the operating system, Windows 10, maintains about the file. The statement contained within the file I mentioned above, “Reason: Government Publishing Office attests that this document has not been altered since it was disseminated by the Government Publishing Office”, is part of the PDF, and is not in the operating system properties.

I think there is a weaker case for having to print the operating system properties when making a certified copy. Imagine that a client asks me to make a paper certified copy of a paper document. The client then goes to a file cabinet, opens a drawer labeled “T-Z”, and pulls out a file folder labeled “2019 Taxes”. Then the client pulls a document out of the file folder for me to make a certified copy of. I would feel no obligation to copy the label on the file cabinet drawer, or the label on the file folder. I consider the operating system properties to be akin to the filing labels.

What does the screenshot show under the “details” tab? The screenshot you showed is under the “general” tab. It shows more info.

Here is the screenshot of the General tab:

Notice the created and modified times reflect when I downloaded the document yesterday. The signature time inside the document is 2022/07/02 00:35:10 -04’00’.

I just uploaded it to Google Drive, changed the name, and downloaded it. The signature date inside the document remains the same, but the Windows 10 date and time becomes July 3, 2022, 5:36:22 PM. The signature, according to Adobe Reader remains valid. This is valid. The universal custom is that moving a computer file from one computer to another, or one folder in a computer to another, is not considered a change to the file.

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Yup. Exactly what I was looking for. Shows the date created. Shows the date modified, and the owner of the doc. If you shared that doc with me and I saved it to my computer, and reposted the properties, it should show that it was shared, and to whom. And if I modified it, it should show that too, from my device. On a side note, the creator of the document can restrict editing/modification (lock document) after creating it.

The account holder of the computer on which the file is stored can mark it in the operating system as read only, which will prevent modifications. But the account holder can also change it back to writable, so read-only can not be compared to a digital signature.

Within Adobe Acrobat (or other software that can read and write PDF documents) a person in possession of an unprotected document can mark it to prevent modifications unless the person making the modifications has the password. But that is just an instruction to Adobe Acrobat. Someone else can write a PDF editing program that just ignores that instruction. There are also programs available that remove the password that prevents modifications.

A different security measure is to digitally sign the document. A digitally signed document can be modified, but if it is, the signature becomes invalid. It is a fundamental characteristic of the mathematical digital signature algorithm that any modification will invalidate the digital signature. Nobody can modify it without invalidating the digital signature, whether they are using Adobe Acrobat, a product from a different company, or are writing their own software.

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