TRUSTED AND SECURE TECHNIQUES, SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR ITEM DELIVERY AND EXECUTION
Documents and other items can be delivered electronically from sender to recipient with a level of trustedness approaching or exceeding that provided by a personal document courier. A trusted electronic go-between can validate, witness and/or archive transactions while, in some cases, actively participating in or directing the transaction. Printed or imaged documents can be marked using handwritten signature images, seal images, electronic fingerprinting, watermarking, and/or steganography. Electronic commercial transactions and transmissions take place in a reliable, “trusted” virtual distribution environment that provides significant efficiency and cost savings benefits to users in addition to providing an extremely high degree of confidence and trustedness. The systems and techniques have many uses including but not limited to secure document delivery, execution of legal documents, and electronic data interchange (EDI).
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 11/102,514, filed Apr. 7, 2005, which is a division of application Ser. No. 09/632,944, filed Aug. 4, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,143,290, which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/221,479, filed Dec. 28, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,185,683, which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/699,711, filed Aug. 12, 1996, now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 08/388,107, filed Feb. 13, 1995, abandoned via file wrapper continuation, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,982,891, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION(S)
These inventions relate to secure and trusted delivery of digital information. More specifically, these inventions pertain to techniques, methods and systems for providing reliable, trusted, verifiable delivery, handling, creation and/or execution of digital items such as documents, executable code (e.g., Java applets), and/or any other information capable of being represented in digital form. The present invention also relates to commercial and other electronic activities involving a trusted third party electronic go-between (such as a computer controlled process) to audit, validate, and/or direct electronic transactions, executions and/or delivery and/or to archive information representing and/or at least in part comprising securely communicated digital information.
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTIONS
There is a great need for convenient, cost effective techniques to securely handle and deliver documents and other items. Existing methods such as express and personal couriers, registered mail, facsimile and electronic mail fulfill some of these needs but these techniques each have their problems and are deficient in important ways.
Trusted Personal Couriers
Perhaps the ultimate in secure document handling is the personal trusted courier. Many of us have seen spy films showing a trusted courier delivering documents containing state secrets. In such scenarios, the document sender places the document or other item into a lockable attaché case. The sender seals and locks the case with a key or combination that only he and the recipient have. The courier handcuffs the case to his or her wrist, boards an airplane and flies to the required destination—all the while carefully guarding the attaché case and its contents. Upon arriving at the destination, the courier personally delivers the case to the intended recipient. The recipient unlocks the case and retrieves its contents, all the while having a high degree of assurance that the contents have been kept secret.
The confidentiality, security and reliability provided by a personal trusted document courier has never really been matched by any other form of document delivery. Even though we sometimes might want or need the services of a personal trusted document courier, it is likely that practical reasons (such as cost and availability) require us to use less trusted forms of delivery for even our most important and confidential documents or other items. Moreover, even the trusted courier technique does not provide a reliable means of later providing how and when the information was used by the recipient and/or subsequently handled by others to whom the recipient may pass the information and what information was actually sent. This approach also cannot provide the degree of interactivity between the sender and the recipient possible in a world of near instantaneous communications, including seamlessly supporting processes related to rights management, and document creation and dissemination.
As discussed below, existing alternatives to the trusted courier are more practical and less expensive, and some offer advantages such as instantaneous communications and interactivity—but all suffer from various disadvantages.
Express Courier Services
Federal Express and other express courier services provide rapid (for example, overnight) delivery services at a relatively high degree of trustedness.
In the typical case, the sender places the items to be delivered into a special, tear resistant sealed envelope, and fills out an “air bill” that lists the sender's name, address and telephone number, and the intended recipient's name, address and telephone number. The “air bill” also lists options such as, for example, the type of delivery service required (i.e., delivery next business morning, next business afternoon, or second business day), whether the sender requires Federal Express to obtain the recipient's signature, the payment method, and a unique “tracking number” used to uniquely identify the package.
Once the package is complete and ready to send, the sender may provide it to Federal Express through a number of different methods:
- the sender may take the package to a Federal Express office and personally hand it to a clerk,
- the sender may drop the completed envelope in any one of many pervasive Federal Express drop off boxes, and someone will come and collect the envelopes from the boxes sometime before the end of the business day and deliver them to a Federal Express office, or
- the sender can call Federal Express and arrange for a delivery person to come and pick up the package.
Federal Express maintains a fleet of aircraft that shuttle most packages to a central sorting and routing facility for subsequent dispatch to various destinations across the United States and the world. A fleet of delivery trucks deliver the packages from local airports to each recipient. At the sender's option, a delivery person may obtain a recipient's signature at the time she delivers the package—providing documentation that may later be used to prove the package was in fact received by the intended recipient or someone at his or her home or office.
Federal Express uses automated computer tracking and package handling equipment to route individual packages to their destinations. Delivery information is put into the tracking computer to allow customers and service people to automatically retrieve information about when and to whom particular packages were actually delivered, or where the package happens to be at the moment.
Federal Express and other similar document delivery services have been highly successful because they cost-effectively ensure reliable delivery of original documents and other items. Nevertheless, they do have some significant disadvantages and limitations. For example:
- They are much more expensive than other delivery mechanisms at least in part because of the high labor, transportation, and infrastructure (many offices, planes, etc.) costs involved.
- They do not provide the very high degree of confidentiality desired for certain confidential business or other documents.
- They generally can only reliably verify that the package was delivered to the intended recipient (or his or her home or place of business)—and not that the intended recipient opened the package or read or saw or used the document.
- The one (or two) day delay they introduce may be too great for time sensitive or time pressing items.
These problems are exacerbated when several individuals and/or organizations in different geographical locations are all parties to a transaction—a complex, multiparty contract, for example—and all must sign or otherwise process and/or execute one or more related documents.
A relatively more secure delivery technique is registered mail. Registered mail correspondents can have a high degree of confidence that their packages will arrive at their required destinations—but may not like the time delays and additional expense associated with this special form of mail handling.
To use registered mail, the sender places her document or other items into a sealed envelope or package and takes her package to the nearest Post Office. For security, the Post Office may prohibit the use of resealable tape and mailing labels, and instead require the package to be sealed with paper tape and the address to be written directly on the package. These safeguards help to ensure that any attempts to tamper with the package or its contents will be detected.
The Post Office securely transports the registered mail package to the recipient, requiring each postal employee who accepts custody of the package along its journey to sign and time stamp a custody record. The postal carrier at the recipient's end personally delivers the package to the recipient—who also has to sign for it and may be asked to produce proof of identification. The custody record establishes a chain of custody, listing every person who has had custody of the package on its journey from sender to recipient.
As discussed above, registered mail is relatively secure and confidential but delivery takes a long time and is very labor and infrastructure intensive.
Facsimile is an electronic-based technology that provides virtually instantaneous document delivery. A facsimile machine typically includes a document scanner, a document printer, and electronic circuits that convert document images to and from a form in which they can be sent over a telephone line. Facsimile requires each of the sender and the intended recipient to have a facsimile machine. The sender typically places the document to be sent into a document feeder attached to a facsimile machine. The sender then typically keys in the telephone number of the intended recipient's facsimile machine and presses a “start” button. The sender's facsimile machine automatically dials and establishes contact with the recipient's facsimile machine.
Once a good connection is established, the sender's facsimile machine begins to optically scan the document one page at a time and convert it into digital information bits. The sender's facsimile machine converts the digital bits into a form that can be transmitted over a telephone line, and sends the bits to the intended recipient's facsimile machine. The sender's facsimile machine may also send as part of the document, a “header” on the top of each page stating the sender's identity, the page number of the transmission, and the transmission time. However, these headers can be changed at will by the sender and therefore cannot be trusted.
Since the recipient's facsimile machine receives the transmitted information at the same time the sender's facsimile machine is sending it, delivery is virtually instantaneous. However, sending a document to an unattended facsimile machine in an insecure location may result in the document falling into the wrong hands. Another common scenario is that the facsimile machine operator, through human error, dials the wrong telephone number and ends up delivering a confidential document to the wrong person (for example, the local grocery store down the street, or in some unfortunate cases, the opposing side of a negotiation, legal proceeding or other pitched battle). Thousands of faxes are lost every day in a “black hole”—never arriving at their desired destinations but possibly arriving at completely different destinations instead.
- Some secure facsimile machines such as those used by government and military organizations, or by companies needing a significantly higher level of security provide an extra security/authentication step to ensure that the intended recipient is physically present at the receiving facsimile machine before the sender's machine will transmit the document. In addition, it is possible to use encryption to prevent the facsimile transmitted information from being understood by electronic eavesdroppers. However, such specially equipped facsimile machines tend to be very expensive and are not generally available for common commercial facsimile traffic. Moreover, facsimile machines typically can send and receive documents only—and therefore are not very versatile. They do not, for example, handle digital items such as audio, video, multimedia, and executables, yet these are increasingly part and parcel of communications for commerce and other purposes. Thus, despite its many advantages, facsimile transmissions do not provide the very high degree of trustedness and confidence required by extremely confidential documents, nor do they provide the degree of flexibility required by modern digital communications. As with Express Courier Services and Registered Mail, faxing can only indicate that the package was delivered to the intended recipient (or his or her home or place of business)—and not that the intended recipient opened the package or read or saw or used the document.
More and more, people are using electronic mail to send documents, messages, and/or other digital items. The “Internet explosion” has connected millions of new users to the Internet. Whereas Internet electronic mail was previously restricted primarily to the academic world, most corporations and computer-savvy individuals can now correspond regularly over the Internet.
Currently, Internet electronic mail provides great advantages in terms of timeliness (nearly instantaneous delivery) and flexibility (any type of digital information can be sent), but suffers from an inherent lack of security and trustedness. Internet messages must typically pass through a number of different computers to get from sender to recipient, regardless of whether these computers are located within a single company on an “Intranet” for example, or on Internet attached computers belonging to a multitude of organizations. Unfortunately, any one of those computers can potentially intercept the message and/or keep a copy of it. Moreover, even though some of these systems have limited “return receipt” capabilities, the message carrying the receipt suffers from the same security and reliability problems as the original message.
Cryptography (a special mathematical-based technique for keeping messages secret and authenticating messages) is now beginning to be used to prevent eavesdroppers from reading intercepted messages, but the widespread use of such cryptography techniques alone will not solve electronic mail's inherent lack of trustedness. These electronic mail messages, documents and other items (e.g., executable computer programs or program fragments) that might have been sent with them as “attachments,” remain vulnerable to tampering and other unauthorized operations and uses once decrypted and while delivery may be reported, actual use can not be demonstrated. Some people have tried to develop “privacy enhanced” electronic mail, but prior systems have only provided limited improvements in reliability, efficiency and/or security.
The Present Inventions Solve These and Other Problems
As discussed above, a wide variety of techniques are currently being used to provide secure, trusted confidential delivery of documents and other items. Unfortunately, none of these previously existing mechanisms provide truly trusted, virtually instantaneous delivery on a cost-effective, convenient basis and none provide rights management and auditing through persistent, secure, digital information protection.
In contrast, the present inventions provide the trustedness, confidentiality and security of a personal trusted courier on a virtually instantaneous and highly cost-effective basis. They provide techniques, systems and methods that can bring to any form of electronic communications (including, but not limited to Internet and internal company electronic mail) an extremely high degree of trustedness, confidence and security approaching or exceeding that provided by a trusted personal courier. They also provide a wide variety of benefits that flow from rights management and secure chain of handling and control.
The present inventions preferred embodiment make use of a digital Virtual Distribution Environment (VDE) as a major portion of its operating foundation, providing unique, powerful capabilities instrumental to the development of secure, distributed transaction-based electronic commerce and digital content handling, distribution, processing, and usage management. This Virtual Distribution Environment technology can flexibly enable a wide variety of new business models and business practices while also supporting existing business models and practices.
The Virtual Distribution Environment provides comprehensive overall systems, and wide arrays of methods, techniques, structures and arrangements, that enable secure, efficient electronic commerce and rights management on the Internet and other information superhighways and on internal corporate networks such as “Intranets”. The present inventions use (and in some cases, build upon and enhances) this fundamental Virtual Distribution Environment technology to provide still additional flexibility, capabilities, features and advantages. The present invention, in its preferred embodiment, is intended to be used in combination a broad array of the features described in Ginter, et al, including any combination of the following:
A. VDE chain of handling and control,
B. security trusted internodal communication,
C. secure database,
G. other VDE security and communication techniques,
H. rights operating system,
I. object design and secure container techniques,
J. container control structures,
K. ARPML rights and process control language,
L. electronic negotiation,
M. secure hardware, and
N. smart agent (smart object) techniques.
For example, parties using the Virtual Distribution Environment can participate in commerce and other transactions in accordance with a persistent set of rules they electronically define. Such techniques, systems and arrangements bring about an unparalleled degree of security, reliability, efficiency and flexibility to electronic commerce, electronic rights management and other important business models. The present inventions make use of these persistent electronic rules to provide secure, automated, cost-effective electronic control for electronic document and other digital item handling and/or delivery, and for the electronic formation and negotiation of legal contracts and other documents.
By way of non-exhaustive summary, these present inventions provide a highly secure and trusted item delivery and agreement execution services providing the following features and functions:
- Trustedness and security approaching or exceeding that of a personal trusted courier.
- Instant or nearly instant delivery.
- Optional delayed delivery (“store and forward”).
- Broadcasting to multiple parties.
- Highly cost effective.
- Trusted validation of item contents and delivery.
- Value Added Delivery and other features selectable by the sender and/or recipient.
- Provides electronic transmission trusted auditing and validating.
- Allows people to communicate quickly, securely, and confidentially.
- Communications can later be proved through reliable evidence of the communications transaction—providing non-repudiatable, certain, admissible proof that a particular communications transaction occurred.
- Provides non-repudiation of use and may record specific forms of use such as viewing, editing, extracting, copying, redistributing (including to what one or more parties), and/or saving.
- Supports persistent rights and rules based document workflow management at recipient sites.
- System may operate on the Internet, on internal organization and/or corporate networks (“Intranets” irrespective of whether they use or offer Internet services internally), private data networks, and/or using any other form of electronic communications.
- System may operate in non-networked and/or intermittently networked environments.
- Legal contract execution can be performed in real time, with or without face to face or ear-to-ear personal interactions (such as audiovisual teleconferencing, automated electronic negotiations, or any combination of such interactions) for any number of distributed individuals and/or organizations using any mixture of interactions.
- The items delivered and/or processed may be any “object” in digital format, including, but not limited to, objects containing or representing data types such as text, images, video, linear motion pictures in digital format, sound recordings and other audio information, computer software, smart agents, multimedia, and/or objects any combination of two or more data types contained within or representing a single compound object.
- Content (executables for example) delivered with proof of delivery and/or execution or other use.
- Secure electronic containers can be delivered. The containers can maintain control, audit, receipt and other information and protection securely and persistently in association with one or more items.
- Trustedness provides non-repudiation for legal and other transactions.
- Can handle and send any digital information (for example, analog or digital information representing text, graphics, movies, animation, images, video, digital linear motion pictures, sound and sound recordings, still images, software computer programs or program fragments, executables, data, and including multiple, independent pieces of text; sound clips, software for interpreting and presenting other elements of content, and anything else that is electronically representable).
- Provides automatic electronic mechanisms that associate transactions automatically with other transactions.
- System can automatically insert or embed a variety of visible or invisible “signatures” such as images of handwritten signatures, seals, and electronic “fingerprints” indicating who has “touched” (used or other interacted with in any monitorable manner) the item.
- System can affix visible seals on printed items such as documents for use both in encoding receipt and other receipt and/or usage related information and for establishing a visible presence and impact regarding the authenticity, and ease of checking the authenticity, of the item.
- Seals can indicate who originated, sent, received, previously received and redistributed, electronicallyview, and/or printed and/or otherwise used the item.
- Seals can encode digital signatures and validation information providing time, location, sender and/or other information and/or providing means for item authentication and integrity check.
- Scanning and decoding of item seals can provide authenticity/integrity check of entire item(s) or part of an item (e.g., based on number of words, format, layout, image—picture and/or text—composition, etc.).
- Seals can be used to automatically associate electronic control sets for use in further item handling.
- System can hide additional information within the item using “steganography” for later retrieval and analysis.
- Steganography can be used to encode electronic fingerprints and/or other information into an item to prevent deletion.
- Multiple steganographic storage of the same fingerprint information may be employed reflecting “more” public and “less” public modes so that a less restricted steganographic mode (different encryption algorithm, keys, and/or embedding techniques) can be used to assist easy recognition by an authorized party and a more private (confidential) mode may be readable by only a few parties (or only one party) and comprise of the less restricted mode may not affect the security of the more private mode.
- Items such as documents can be electronically, optically scanned at the sender's end—and printed out in original, printed form at the recipient's end.
- Document handlers and processors can integrate document scanning and delivery.
- Can be directly integrated into enterprise and Internet (and similar network) wide document workflow systems and applications.
- Secure, tamper-resistant electronic appliance, which may employ VDE SPUs, used to handle items at both sender and recipient ends.
- “Original” item(s) can automatically be destroyed at the sender's end and reconstituted at the recipient's end to prevent two originals from existing simultaneously.
- Secure, non-repudiable authentication of the identification of a recipient before delivery using any number of different authentication techniques including but not limited to biometric techniques (such as palm print scan, signature scan, voice scan, retina scan, iris scan, biometric fingerprint and/or handprint scan, and/or face profile) and/or presentation of a secure identity “token.”
- Non-repudiation provided through secure authentication used to condition events (e.g., a signature is affixed onto a document only if the system securely authenticates the sender and her intention to agree to its contents).
- Variety of return receipt options including but not limited to a receipt indicating who opened a document, when, where, and the disposition of the document (stored, redistributed, copied, etc.). These receipts can later be used in legal proceedings and/or other contexts to prove item delivery, receipt and/or knowledge.
- Audit, receipt, and other information can be delivered independently from item delivery, and become securely associated with an item within a protected processing environment.
- Secure electronic controls can specify how an item is to be processed or otherwise handled (e.g., document can't be modified, can be distributed only to specified persons, collections of persons, organizations, can be edited only by certain persons and/or in certain manners, can only be viewed and will be “destroyed” after a certain elapse of time or real time or after a certain number of handlings, etc.)
- Persistent secure electronic controls can continue to supervise item workflow even after it has been received and “read.”
- Use of secure electronic containers to transport items provides an unprecedented degree of security, trustedness and flexibility.
- Secure controls can be used in conjunction with digital electronic certificates certifying as to identity, class (age, organization membership, jurisdiction, etc.) of the sender and/or receiver and/or user of communicated information.
- Efficiently handles payment and electronic addressing arrangements through use of support and administrative services such as a Distributed Commerce Utility as more fully described in the copending Shear, et al. application.
- Compatible with use of smart cards, including, for example, VDE enabled smart cards, for secure personal identification and/or for payment.
- Transactions may be one or more component transactions of any distributed chain of handling and control process including Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, electronic trading system, document workflow sequence, and banking and other financial communication sequences, etc.
The present inventions also provide for the use of a trusted third party electronic go-between or intermediary in various forms, including the “virtual presence” of such go-between through the rules and controls it contributes for distributed governance of transactions described in the present invention, and further through the use of a distributed, go-between system operating in on-line and/or off-line modes at various user and/or go-between sites. Such a trusted third-party go-between can provide enhanced and automated functionality, features and other advantages such as, for example:
- Third party go-between can provide an independent, objective third party assurance of item authenticity, integrity, delivery and/or other actions and/or events.
- Third party go-between can support non-repudiation of items having legal and/or other important consequences.
- Third-party go-between can perform auditing, notarizing, authentication, integrity checking, archiving, routing, distributed chain of handling and control processing, and/or other processing.
- Third party can provide store and forward capabilities.
- Trusted go-between can supervise execution of legal items such as documents—ensuring that all required conditions are satisfied and that all parties agree before permitting a document to be executed and informing parties of any as-yet-unsatisfied requirements and allow parties to view completed documents on-screen and/or in printed form with “draft, not enforceable” or the like printed on the pages, before final agreement to commit. Actual execution (closing) occurs, for example, as the third party system verifies final, electronically asserted agreement and execution by all parties. Such “atomic” transactions are especially useful in supporting “closings” or the like.
- Third party go-between can securely audit, manage, supervise, and/or control automated electronic negotiations, contract agreement, contract execution, contract notariziation, and/or archiving of contracts, notarized contracts, and/or at least one VDE control set utilized in an electronic negotiation regardless whether or not that negotiation resulted in an executed contract, and regardless of whether or not the entire negotiation was conducted by electronic means.
- Secure electronic controls can direct tasks to be performed by the third party go-between.
- Third party go-between can provide a digital time stamp service to certify that a certain version of a certain document existed and was delivered to it at a certain day and time.
- Third party go-between can legally notarize the item(s) if desired, and can also “notarize” electronic control structures associated with the item(s).
- Third party go-between can authenticate an item by, for example, opening (e.g. decrypting content) one or more containers; digitally or otherwise “signing” one or more items to indicate the third party has seen the item(s); verifying the integrity of the item(s) (e.g., using a one way hash function); affixing its own distinctive seal and/or other information to the item; generating audit information for item tracking purposes; and collecting payment based on the services it has performed.
- Third party go-between can maintain a secure archive of the item(s) and/or identification/authentication information associated with the item(s) (e.g., a “one way hash” value of item contents or portions thereof). A portion or all of such archive (e.g., a “one way hash”) may be stored within the affixed, visible seal applied described above.
- Go-between can also serve as an archive of controls relating to certain items or item types (e.g., to allow a sender to access common controls and/or templates from any of various electronic appliances).
- Secure electronic controls can provide a message digest that can be delivered to and registered by a trusted go-between as part of the object registry/archiving process.
- Third party go-between can deliver item(s) to an intended recipient, or simply oversee the delivery transaction as an impartial third party observer.
- Trusted go-between can deliver a copy and/or the original of an item with or without a seal affixed by the go-between.
- Trusted third party go-between can maintain or exert control over an item, distributed chain of handling and control process(s), and/or other processes or workflow associated with it.
- Trusted go-between can support governmental regulatory requirements by acting as a cryptographic key repository for encrypted communications; such secure communications may be accessed by governmental authorities, for example, through a warrant process to provide court or otherwise mandated access to specific communications or communications related information (e.g., for encrypted communications employing long key lengths).
- Trusted go-between can act as a user rights authority clearinghouse for additional and/or alternative rights which may, for example, be available to particular classes, specific users, at a certain cost, or as specified by the sender. Trusted go-between may also mediate between sender(s) and recipient(s) in response to recipient's request for new, different and/or modified rights or sender's and/or receiver's request for third party archived information (which may require the agreement by only one, expressly either one, or both sender(s) and recipient(s).
- In addition to multiple individuals and/or parties in several organizations, a trusted go-between may also provide services to parties within a single organization, thus enhancing the security, reliability, auditability, authentication, efficiency, and timeliness of secure document delivery and secure transaction facilitation within a given organization.
- Trusted go-between may provide services both on public networks, such as the Internet, on internal corporate networks (“Intranets”—irrespective of whether or not they use Internet type conventions), and on private networks connecting two or more individuals and/or organizations exchanging documents and other content in digital format and/or participating together in various transactions.
- A third party go-between can provide a communications switching integration. For example, a communications service provider may automatically provide the go-between services for a connection. For example, certain telephone numbers might be offered that have these services built in to the switching network, or a special dialing sequence might be used to access a communications channel with these characteristics. This can provide data links for networks, or be integrated with traditional fax lines, or even voice lines. For example, a fax transmission might be archived, have a seal inserted during transmission, and/or have a hash value stored for later reference. A voice transmission could be similarly managed. Both of these examples have the advantage of compatibility with the existing infrastructure (albeit at the cost of lacking persistent control after delivery). Using this infrastructure for data links has the added advantage of transparency.
- A third party go-between can provide Transaction Authority services as described in the copending concurrently filed Ginter et al patent application
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other features and advantages provided by the present invention will become better and more completely understood by studying the following detailed description of presently preferred exemplary embodiments in conjunction with the drawings, of which:
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS
The entire disclosure of the above-referenced Ginter et al. patent specification is incorporated by reference in connection with
Item 4054 might be a document such as a handwritten or typed letter, or it could be a legal document such as a contract. It could have both text and pictures, just text or just pictures. It could be a sound recording, a multimedia presentation, or a visual work such as a film or television program. Item 4054 could be any item or information capable of being represented in digital form. The item 4054 can be initially presented to the appliance 600 in electronic form (for example, on a diskette), or the appliance can convert it from some other form into electronic form.
Electronic delivery person 4060 receives item 4054 in digital form and places it into a secure electronic container 302—thus forming a digital “object” 300. A digital object 300 may in this case be, for example, as shown in
In this example, sender 4052 sends item 4054 by supplying the document to an electronic appliance 600A. In this example, electronic appliance 600A is an intelligent electronic walk-up kiosk that may be located in a public place or on private property, such as the offices or work areas of a firm. Appliance 600A in this example has a document slot 4102 into which sender 4052 can feed item 4054. Electronic appliance 600A can automatically, optically scan the item 4054 and convert it into digital information for sending over an electronic connection or network 4058 (such as, for example, electronic highway 108 shown in
Also as shown in
Also as shown in
- receipt options (what kind of receipt, if any, sender 4052 wishes to receive documenting delivery of item 4054 to intended recipient 4056);
- integrity guarantee options (providing high levels of assurance that item 4054 was delivered in its entirety without any errors, and without any accidental or intentional modifications);
- privacy options (for example, whether recipient 4056 is to know who sender 4052 is or where she has sent the document from); and
- more options.
Electronic appliance 600A may also ask the user to identify intended recipient 4056 (
- a digital document or “certificate” issued by a trusted third party, and/or
- have appliance 600 measure a biometric characteristic of the recipient such as, for example, taking the recipient's photograph (and possibly automatically compare it with a known photograph of the recipient supplied by sender 4052 or system 4050) or using any other biometric sensing technique.
Sender 4052 may also specify the electronic address of recipient 4056, or it might let system 4050 automatically, securely and confidentially locate the recipient using a secure directory service as described in the copending Shear et al. application.
Once sender 4052 has selected the service options she desires, appliance 600 may next display a message on computer screen 4104 asking sender 4052 to insert item 4054 into document slot 102 for electronic scanning. When the sender 4052 inserts the document 4054 or other item (
The item 4054 to be sent need not be a document, but could be any type of item capable of being transformed into digital form such as, for example:
- pictures or other graphical information;
- sound information such as voice, music or both;
- executable computer program or other code;
- video, film or other moving image sequences;
- multimedia, video games and the like;
- any combination or subcombination of the above.
After appliance 600 has scanned or otherwise received the entirety of document 4054 or other item, appliance 600 may calculate and display a total price on computer screen 4104 and ask sender 4052 to pay for the service (
Example Electronic Delivery and Return Receipt
There are advantages to using multiple authentication techniques in combination. For example, a well made certificate is essentially unforgeable (which is to say, it would be easier to fabricate a electronic fingerprint carrying device, for example, than a well made certificate 4064 barring unforeseen advances in mathematics), but the trouble with certificates is the weakness of correlation between physical access (e.g., holding the card, or sitting at the appliance) and permission to use. Passwords are a weak form of authentication—that is, establishing this correlation. Biometric techniques, particularly iris and retinal scans, are stronger forms of authentication. It is possible for biometric information to be encoded in a field of a certificate 4064, and for the software controlling the card to confirm that the biometric input is consistent with the field in the certificate prior to authorizing use of the certificate or the card in general. This authentication may be limited in time (e.g., using an inactivity time out, each time the card is inserted, etc.) In addition, a transaction might require this authentication to occur simultaneous with use (rather than for an entire session, even if the card only requires one authentication per session).
After payment has been arranged (
Electronic delivery person 4060 may also note various information about the delivery (illustrated here by having him write the information down on a clipboard 4066, but implemented in practice by electronically storing an “audit” trail). System 4050 may—based on the particular receipt options sender 4052 requested—provide the sender with an electronic and/or paper receipt of the type shown in
- item and/or transaction number;
- name of actual recipient 4056 to whom the item was delivered;
- the company recipient 4056 works for;
- day, date and time of day of delivery;
- who actually opened and read or used an item 4054;
- when (day, date and time of day) item 4054 was actually opened and read, and
- the public key of the trusted third party that issued the digital certificate 4064 attesting to the identity of recipient 4056.
The sender's electronic appliance 600A and the recipient's electronic appliance 600B can report their respective “audit trails” periodically or upon completion of delivery or some other event. They can report the audit information to a support facility such as information utility usage analyst 200C (see
Other Types of Electronic Appliances can be Used
As mentioned above, the kiosk appliances 600 shown in
Secure electronic delivery can also be from one personal computer 4116 to another.
Secure delivery can also be from one personal computer 4116 to another.
Electronic Execution of a Legal Document
System 4050 supports “simultaneous” as well as non-simultaneous contract or other document execution among contracting parties 4070. Simultaneous completion allows multiple parties located in physically different locations to directly and simultaneously participate in the execution of legal documents and/or other transactions that require authorizations.
Currently, businesses often prefer simultaneous execution of documents at what is called a “closing.” Such closings for important documents frequently require the presence of all participants at the same location to simultaneously sign all necessary legal documents. Business executives are often reluctant to sign a set of documents and then send them to the next party to sign, since special legal language may be required to release the first (or early) signing party if the documents are not quickly signed by other participants and since certain liabilities may exist during this interim period.
One relatively weak form of authentication is physical possession of the card 4109. Nonetheless, if some form of weak authentication is used and biometric information is gathered in real time by sensor 4124, it may be correlated with some trusted record stored elsewhere, and/or delivered along with the item 4054. If biometric information is codelivered with the item 4054, and it is ever actually used, it must be correlated with a trusted record (this trusted record could, for example, be generated by the person providing biometric data in the presence of a trusted party if the validity of a transaction is called into question, at the sacrifice of significant automation and “commercial confidence” benefits). The ability to establish trust as the transaction occurs, rather than having some degree of nonrepudiation later (imagine if the transaction were fraudulent, and a user relied on the person showing up to give a retinal scan) is one significant benefit of example system 4050.
If the parties are simultaneously at their respective electronic appliances 600, they may verify each other's identity using video cameras and screens built into the kiosk. Such simultaneous execution has the advantage of allowing multiple parties at different physical locations to negotiate a deal in real time and then simultaneously, reliably execute and receive final, signed agreement copies that are valid and legally binding.
Trusted delivery mechanism 4060 may send messages such as offers 4054A and acceptances 4054B between the two electronic appliances 600A, 600B. These messages may be packaged within secure electronic containers 302. Some of these may be human readable, others may be automated as in
Once the parties 4070A, 4070B agree on the terms of the contract, they may securely indicate their agreement and system 4050 can generate an electronic and/or paper contract document 4068 that evidences and memorializes the agreement. As will be discussed below, contract document 4068 may have special attributes such as seals 4200, hand-written signatures 4300 and/or visual or hidden “electronic fingerprint” information 4400. Such seals 4200, signatures 4300 and electronic fingerprints 4400 can be used to establish the authenticity of the document (for example, preventing a signatory from repudiating it and to allowing it to be admitted as evidence in a court of law).
System 4050 can electronically pass contract 4068 along a “chain” from one party 4070 to the next (“Round Robin”), collecting signatures as it travels along. System 4050 can also allow each party 4070A-4070F to communicate with any other party. One copy of contract 4068 could be passed along from party to party and iteratively signed at the respective signers' locations. The last signer could then broadcast final, signed copies of contract 4068 to all parties. The electronic containers 302 can specify who the next recipient of contract is—forming a trusted chain of handling and control for contract 4068.
In one example, all of the parties 4070 may be required to hit an “I Agree” button (e.g., by placing a finger onto a biometric sender 4124 shown in
Trusted Electronic Go-Between
- maintaining a secure archive of data, receipts and other information about transmissions senders 4052 sends to recipients 4056;
- managing the transaction for example, so that not all parties need to participate simultaneously or to ensure that all prerequisites or preconditions have been satisfied);
- making certain certifications about information sent via system 4050 such as acting as a digital witness by notarizing documents and transmissions.
The drawings show the trusted go-between 4700 as a person for purposes of illustration only. In the preferred example, trusted go-between 4700 may be a computer that performs its functions electronically in a highly automatic and efficient way. In one example, the computer's capabilities may be augmented by human participation.
The Trusted Electronic Go-Between can Help with Contracts
In one example, trusted electronic go-between 4700 can also act as a mediator to resolve disputes between the contracting parties 4070A, 4070B, and can help negotiate the contract. At the conclusion of the contracting process, trusted electronic go-between 4700 may affix its own seal 4200A to the executed contract document 4068. This seal 4200A may provide a guarantee or assurance that all of the steps required by trusted electronic go-between 4700 were fulfilled before the contract 4068 was executed and that the contracting parties 4070A, 4070B are who they say they are and had authorization to execute the contract.
It is extremely useful to have trusted go-between 4700 monitoring this activity to order the application of signatures (if required), and to allow a roll back if the system fails before applying all of the signatures. The role of go-between 4700 may, in some circumstances, be played by one of the participant's SPU's 500 (PPEs), since SPU (PPE) behavior is not under the user's control, but rather can be under the control of rules and controls provided by one or more other parties other than the user (although in many instances the user can contribute his or her own controls to operate in combination with controls contributed by other parties). In another example, the go-between role 4700 may comprise a “virtual go-between” comprised of a one, a combination of plural, or all, nodes of participants in a collective or other group. Governance can be shared through the interaction of rules and controls of the various node PPEs producing a go-between control role. Upon the completion of a go-between managed transaction, transaction audit information for archive, billing, security, and/or administrative purposes may be securely transmitted, directly, or through one or more other participating in the virtual go-between.
The Secure Electronic Go-Between can be Used within and Between Organizations
In this example, organization A user nodes 600(A)(1), . . . , 600(A)(N) each have an instance of a virtual distribution environment protected processing environment, and can communicate with one another over Intranet 5100(A) via secure electronic containers 302. Similarly, organization A user nodes 600(B)(1), . . . 600(B)(N) each have an instance of a virtual distribution environment protected processing environment, and can communicate with one another over Intranet 5100(B) via secure electronic containers 302. In addition, organization A and organization B can communicate with one another over Internet 5104 via secure electronic containers 302.
Organization A's private trusted go-between 4700(A) may be used for facilitating organization A's internal communications and processes. Private trusted go-between 4700(A) might be used, for example, to carefully track documents and other items sent from one user to another within organization A. The public go-between 4700(C), meanwhile, can be used to coordinate between organization A and organization B without, for example, revealing confidential information of either organization to the other organization. Below are more detailed examples of how the
More about the Secure Electronic Container
In this example, secure container 302 may contain a digital image 4068I of a document or other item 4054 to be delivered from one party to another. This image may include one or more seals 4200, one or more hand-written signatures 4300, and one or more electronic fingerprints 4400. The item 4054 may be multiple pages long or it may be a single page. The item 4054 may contain text, pictures or graphical information, computer instructions, audio data, computer data, or any combination of these, for example. Image 4068I may be represented in a so-called “universal” format to allow it to be created and displayed and/or printed by any standard software application capable of processing items in the appropriate “universal” format. If desired, image 4068I may include cover sheets, virtual “stick on” notes, and/or the like. Secure container 302 may contain any number of different 4054.
Container 302 may also contain another, data version 4068D of the item 4054. This data version 4068D might, for example, comprise one or more “word processing” files corresponding to a text document, for example.
The container 302 may also contain one or more tools 4074 for using image 4068I and/or data 4068D. Tools 4074 might be used to allow the intended recipient 4056 to manipulate or view the image 4068I and/or the data 4068D. Tools 4074 might be computer programs in one example (as mentioned above, item 4054 can also be a computer program such as a program being sold to the recipient).
Secure container 302 may also contain an electronic, digital control structure 4078. This control structure 4078 (which could also be delivered independently in another container 302 different from the one carrying the image 4068I and/or the data 4068D) may contain important information controlling use of container 302. For example, controls 4078 may specify who can open container 302 and under what conditions the container can be opened. Controls 4078 might also specify who, if anyone, object 300 can be passed on to. As another example, controls 4078 might specify restrictions on how the image 4068I and/or data 4068D can be used (e.g., to allow the recipient to view but not change the image and/or data as one example). The detailed nature of control structure 4078 is described in connection, for example, with
Secure container 302 may also include one or more routing slips 4072 and one or more audit trails 4077. Routing slip 4072 and audit trail 4076 are data structures defined by and/or associated with electronic controls 4078, and may be integrated as part of these electronic controls (see
System 4050 in this example can accommodate any or all of these conventions by imprinting various graphics and/or symbols on printed item 4054. In the
Hand-written signature 4300 may be a graphical image of the signer's own hand-written signature. System 4050 can obtain this hand-written signature image 4300 in a number of ways. For example, system 4050 may require the signer to sign his or her signature at the time item 4054 is created. In this example, once the document is finalized, sender 4052 or contracting party 4070 can sign his or her signature using a magnetic or pressure-sensitive signature capture device, for example. Such conventional signature capture devices electronically capture the image of a person's signature and store it in a memory. System 4050 can then—once it securely obtains the authorization of the signer with a very high degree of trustedness and sureness (e.g., by requesting a password, biometric test, etc.)—place hand-written signature 4300 onto an appropriate part of item 4054.
Alternatively, the signer may carry his or her hand-written signature on a portable storage medium such as, for example, a magnetic, smart or memory card. The portable storage unit may employ rules and controls for budgeting the number of times and/or class and/or other circumstances of a transaction that a signature can be employed, or before the device needs to re-connect to a remote authority as disclosed in the above-referenced Shear et al. patent. The signer can present this storage medium to system 4050 as a source for the signature image 4300 shown in
In still another example, system 4050 may securely maintain hand-written signature files for a number of different users in a secure archive or “secure directory services” as disclosed in the above-referenced Shear et al. patent disclosure. At a user's request, system 4050 may call up the signature file pertaining to that user and impress the corresponding signature onto item 4054. If an image representation of a signature is stored on portable media or in a directory service, the image may be stored in an electronic container 302. Such a container 302 permits the owner of the signature to specify control information that governs how the signature image may be used. In addition, or alternatively, the signature image may be stored in or securely associated with a field of a digital certificate (that may, for example, also incorporate other identifying information).
System 4050 also is capable of imprinting special seals 4200 onto item 4054.
In this example, outer portion 4204 is used for encoding digital information.
System 4050 can recover the encoded information by scanning and analyzing an image of item 4054 in either digital or printed form. In one embodiment, system 4050 can create electronic controls 4078 based at least in part on this information it obtains from seal 4200.
The hash function may operate on a document in its image form, or its text equivalent (producing two different hash values). In addition, the text version of a document may be pre-processed before operation of the hash function to simplify verification of a document if it must be rekeyed into a verification system (e.g., in the case where all electronic copies of a document have been lost). Since cryptographically strong hash functions are extremely sensitive to the slightest change in data (yielding different values if, for example, a tab character is keyed as a series of spaces) this pre-processing may normalize the document by, for example, discarding all font and formatting information and/or reducing each occurrence of “whitespace” (e.g., spaces, tabs, carriage returns, etc.) into a single space. If the same pre-processing is applied to a retyped version of the document before the hash function is applied, it will have a much higher likelihood of yielding the same hash value if the documents are substantively the same.
System 4050 may later recover this information by digitally and/or optically scanning the image of item 4054 and analyzing the pattern of seal 4200 to recover digital signature 4216. System 4050 may then apply the public key corresponding to the private key used to encrypt the information—thereby recovering the hash, time and digital certificate, while at the same time authenticating the information as having been encrypted with the relevant private key(s). In this example, System 4050 also has the original document image 4054 available to it, and may therefore duplicate the one-way hash process 4212 and compare the hash value it gets with the hash value encoded within seal 4200. Mismatches indicate that the seal 4200 may have been copied from another document and does not apply to the document currently being analyzed.
Other types of digital identifying information that system 4050 might affix to the document include, for example:
- digital information generated by algorithms (such as error correcting algorithms for example) including certain kinds of unique transmittal information or certain unique pseudo-randomly generated codes that might be combined with transmittal information and/or information representing transmittal content, such that representation of such a collection of relevant transmittal related information may uniquely and reliably confirm that a given document (or other information) sent by sender 4052 is actually the exact document sent; or
- Reed-Solomon codes or other error correcting or other algorithms relying on formalisms within abstract algebra for establishing a correct sequence of bits; or
- MD4 or other message digest algorithms employing, for example, one-way hash algorithms that attempt to uniquely identify a sequence of bits that is highly sensitive to content and ordering of bits in a sequence.
Example Electronic Appliance
Electronic appliance 600 may be any type of electronic device such as a personal computer, intelligent kiosk, set top box, or dedicated stand-alone communications appliance—just to name a few examples. Processor 4126 is connected to
- one or more user input devices 4106, 4118, 4140;
- card/media reader 4108, 4132;
- document reader/scanner 4114;
- biometric sensor(s) 4124;
- display 4104;
- document printer 4122; and,
- optionally, a receipt printer 4122A for printing receipts of the type shown in
A document handler/destroyer 4115 may be provided to feed multi-page documents into document reader/scanner 4114 and—in one embodiment—to destroy documents to ensure that only one “original” exists at a time. Such controlled document destruction might, for example, be useful in allowing sender 4052 to deliver an original stock certificate to a transfer agent. The sender 4052 could insert the original certificate into appliance 600—which may scan the original to convert it to digital information (e.g., through use of OCR technology), confirm delivery, and then destroy the original paper version. Secure controls 4078 could be used to ensure that only a single original ever exists on paper.
Processor 4126 is also connected to secure and/or insecure digital or other storage 4130 (such as, for example, magnetic disks, random access memory, optical disks, etc.), and to a communications device 666 permitting the processor to communicate electronically with other processors or devices via an electronic network 4058 (672). In one example, appliance 600 may be provided with additional and/or different components such as shown in
Example Process to Send an Item
- node initialization (
FIGS. 64, 68, and 69), and updates ( FIG. 65),
- locally registering any rules and controls associated with the user's rights,
- locally registering any rules and controls associated with any class-based rights, including, for example, any provision for integration of the item sending process into a user application (e.g., to be listed as a “printer” under a print set up in a Windows or other personal computer software application); and
- the establishment of any necessary certified user identities, which may include, for example, the use of a wider purpose certified identity and/or the certified use of a non-certified identity (such as some network name service identifications) or certified delegation of use of a certified identity.
- node initialization (
Once the appliance 600 has been properly initialized, the first step in a send process 4500 may be to authenticate the identity of sender 4052 (
- use of biometric sensor 4124 to provide a retinal, iris, fingerprint, thumbprint, or other scanning/matching;
- the use of a voice print for identity verification;
- hand-written signature capture and biometric analysis;
- requiring the user to present an identification card 4109 (which may be a smart card, magnetic card, or other storage information) that contains information about the sender's identity;
- capture and pattern recognition of a photographic image of the sender's face;
- requiring the sender to respond orally and/or via other user input devices 4106, 4118, such as keyboards or the like to provide “secret” information such as Mother's maiden name, special passwords or code words, or other information uniquely known to the sender;
- any combination or subcombination of these various techniques.
In this particular example, the authentication step 4502 may involve an application program executing on appliance 600 requesting authentication support from protected processing environment 650—for example, sending to the protected processing environment an authentication “event” requesting the protected processing environment to authenticate the sender and providing authentication information to the protected processing environment (
In this particular example, the protected processing environment 650 may examine the authentication information provided to it (e.g., the output of biometric sensors, password information, information read from an identity card, etc.) and determine (based on methods provided in one or more electronic control sets) whether it has sufficient basis to conclude with a requisite, specified degree of assurance that the sender is who she says she is (
The nature and characteristics of this sender authentication test performed by PPE 650 may vary depending on the particular electronic control set being used—as dictated by particular applications. As discussed above, in situations that have legal significance in which non-repudiation is very important, PPE 650 may impose a relatively stringent authentication test. Other, more routine situations may use control sets that impose less stringent authenticity checks.
The PPE 650 may abort the process if it decides there is insufficient information to form a trusted belief of authenticity and/or if it determines that the sender is not who she says she is (
The sender's appliance 600 may next need to identify or “register” the intended recipient(s) 4056 (
Why might the sender's PPE 650 need to contact the recipient before sending the item? The answer is that it may be necessary or desirable for the sender 4052 and the recipient 4056 to negotiate and/or agree as to the appropriate electronic controls that should apply. In an item transmission scenario, for example, such an “agreement” might work out who is going to pay for the delivery service, which recipient appliance (home or office) the document is to be delivered to, what kind of return receipt is acceptable to both parties, etc.
The PPE 650's “register recipient” event processing may, for example, allow the proposed recipient to deliver a set of controls to the sender's system that defines the parameters of receipt. Some general purpose systems may use the default settings in the kiosk or other transmission station. The address itself may provide an indication to the transmitting station as to whether it may or must request a set of control information from the recipient prior to transmission.
More complicated scenarios may require further coordination. For example, an option to destroy the original item at the send end and recreate it at the recipient's end (e.g., in the case of the stock certificate mentioned earlier) is both a send option and a receipt option. Similarly, options pertaining to procedures for electronic contract execution typically will require pre-agreement from both the sender and the recipient (i.e., from all parties to the contract). In these cases, there should be some menu options that are driven by the address of the proposed recipient—and there may be an electronic (or humanly-driven) negotiation to resolve conflicts.
The PPE 650's “register recipient” processing may also require input or other interaction from the user.
This dynamic user interface approach allows control structures to be more “self describing” in the sense that application programs do not need to know ahead of time (i.e. when they are written) all of the fields, values, etc. for the structures. This gives structure designers more freedom in how their controls are designed. Given a rich enough grammar in the DTD 1108, designers needn't concern themselves with whether application programs will have the ability to manage the interaction with a user regarding their structures. This capability can also be used to create controls that support the electronic negotiation process shown for example in
The PPE 650 then may determine whether it needs to request and obtain a control set from the recipient to proceed (
On the other hand, if PPE 650 must get a recipient's control set (
Once PPE 650 determines how to contact the recipient, it may construct an administrative object 870 (see
The PPE 650 within the recipient's electronic appliance 600 or other responding VDE node may process administrative object 870 upon receiving it (
The sender's PPE 650 may register the received controls (
If the problem is not critical (“N” exit to
- a. digital
- b. visual
- c. both
- a. visual
- b. hidden (steganographic)
- c. both
a. Insert third party seal
b. Complete sender seal
c. Provide handwritten signature
d. Provide steganographic electronic fingerprint
e. Provide visual electronic fingerprint
- a. modify/no modify
- b. partial disclosure
Item Destruction Option
- a) destroy paper original
- b) destroy digital “original”
- a) receipt to send
- b) receipt to sender and trusted go-between
- c) receipt to trusted go-between
- d) no receipt requested
Integrity Guarantee Options
- a) no modifications permitted (final version, for example)
- b) no modifications other than signing permitted
- c) no cut, paste, exerpting permitted
- d) other document (item) controls
- a) public transaction
- b) authorization list
- c) direct parties to transaction (sender, receiver, etc.)
- d) direct parties plus transaction authorities (see Shear et al.)
- a) type and/or “strength” of recipient authentications (e.g., biometric, password, other)
- b) strength requirement
- a) direct delivery
- b) store and forward
- c) permit proxy delivery (registered or certified)
Contract Execution Options
- a) single recipient
- b) multiple recipients
negotiate (with our without saving negotiation history)
degree/type of non-repudiation evidence required
Name of party
Address of party (if known)
Secure directory lookup (if address unknown)
Quality (speed) of connection
Payment methods (if different for teleconference)
Teleconference network carrier
Trusted Go-Between Options
Contract settlement options
- a) archive digital “original”
- b) archive “sent” audit record
- c) archive “received” audit record
- d) archive negotiation history audit record(s)
- a) notarize digital “original”
- b) notarize sub-sections of digital “original”
- c) notarize “sent” audit record
- d) notarize “received” audit record
- e) notarize negotiation history audit record(s)
- a) Automated negotiations enabled (yes/no)
- b) Specific human go-between (if yes, who)
Length of time to store records (days, months, years, forever)
Contents inaccessible to trusted-go-between (automated service only)
- a) Mastercard
- b) Visa
- c) American Express
- d) ACH
- e) EDI X.12
- f) other
In the dynamic user interface model, for example, the user options associated with a contract offer (which are used to create electronic controls associated with the electronic transaction) might relate to a suggested addition, modification, deletion, etc. to an existing item 4054. If the VDE-aware applications used by the participants included word processing capabilities (given that the negotiation has a text based portion), for example, the VDE protected content in the offer could be represented as a “redline” or “revision marking.” The controls could further include aspects that manage modification of content in a controlled way (e.g., see
The options (and associated controls) associated with a contractual offer may also permit the offerer and/or the recipient to add comments to the offer before it is sent and/or accepted. These comments and/or some or all of the negotiation history may be recorded and managed using the audit capabilities of VDE and/or one or more repositories for VDE objects.
In this example, the PPE 650 checks the user input for validity (
PPE 650 may next specify any audit and routing controls based on the user input it has received and/or the recipient controls it has registered (
- document delivery options selected by sender 4052;
- authentication requirements applicable to intended recipient(s) 4056;
- what use, if any, is to be made of a third part electronic go-between 4700 and what the third party electronic go-between is authorized to do and is restricted from doing;
- other document flow requirements such as direct, pass through or round robin (interactive);
- applicable payment methods;
- restrictions concerning use of the document (e.g., whether or not the document can be modified, whether or not the document can be passed along to another party, other restrictions concerning document use and/or privacy); and
- other item chain of handling and/or control restrictions.
Control set 4078 can be used to enforce a secure chain of handling and control on document container 302 and/or its contents. This secure chain of handling and control may be used, for example, to specify delivery, routing, auditing or other parameters as discussed above.
In performing step 4512, appliance 600 may also create routing slip 4072 (see
- a transaction ID field 4520;
- a sender ID field 4522;
- a recipient 1 ID and node ID field 4524 (1), 4526 (1), respectively, and a corresponding recipient receipt information field 4527(1);
- a recipient 2 ID and node ID field 4524 (2), 4526 (2), respectively, and a corresponding recipient receipt information field 4527(2);
- a recipient N ID and node ID field 4524 (N), 4526 (N), respectively, and a corresponding recipient receipt information field 4527(N);
- communication/routing information 4528;
- exception list 4529; and/or
- other information 4530.
Exception list 4529 may indicate “named exceptions” (e.g., communications failure, line busy, refused receipt, refused payment request, etc.) paired with a list of responses (e.g., try again, cancel entire transaction, send report, invoke event in PPE) and data parameterizing the responses (e.g., number of retries, list of recipients of cancellation notices, report recipients, control information identifier and additional parameters for control use and/or invocation; respectively).
Recipient receipt information field 4527 for each recipient may indicate, for example, the nature of the receipt required, and the recipients of that receipt. A receipt “template” may be included in the container, may be referenced in an archive, or may be named out of a set of default templates stored in each appliance.
The routing slip 4072 (see
In another example, an entire class of users may be permitted to access the documents (through the presence of a certificate indicating their membership in a class, for example), and the routing slip 4072 may be used to record who has handled a particular version of the document. Through use of chain of handling and control techniques, the presence of certain users on the routing slip may permit further control information to be specified by a user. For example, after an analyst's research report has been reviewed by three other analysts, a manager may be permitted to modify the control information associated with the report to permit transmission to “public” users.
Electronic controls 4077 may also include one or more control methods specifying the type of audit information that is to be maintained in connection with the electronic transaction. This audit information may be used for constructing a receipt 4066, to provide evidence preventing repudiation, and for a variety of other functions. Such audit information may be maintained exclusively within the sender's appliance 600, it might be maintained exclusively within the recipient's appliance secure database, it might be maintained exclusively within the trusted go-between 4700's appliance 600 secure database, or it might be maintained in a combination of any or all of these. Additionally, the audit information may or may not be delivered with item 4054 depending on the particular objectives. A usage clearinghouse 200c as described above in connection with
- a transaction identifier 4532;
- sender identifier 4534 identifying sender 4052;
- an identifier 4536 identifying the location (e.g., node) of sender 4052;
- an identifier 4538 of recipient 4056;
- an identifier 4540 specifying the location (e.g., node ID) of the intended recipient 4056;
- an identifier 4542 of the document or other item being sent;
- a secure document descriptor (e.g., a one-way hash value produced from the document's contents);
- other document information 4546 (e.g., format and/or size);
- document delivery options 4548;
- cost/payment information 4550;
- time/date the item the item was sent (field 4552);
- time/date stamp 4554 of document receipt;
- identification of who opened the document (field 4556);
- a time stamp identifying the location/node date and time of document opening (4558); and
- other information 4560.
As mentioned above, audit information 4077 associated with use of a document may be transmitted to many different parties. Audit information 4077 may also be treated as part of the signaling methodology described for reciprocal methods (see
Referring once again to
The appliance 600 is then ready to accept item 4054 (such as a document) to be sent if the item hasn't already been inputted (
Appliance 600 may store the item in any of multiple representations. For example, it could store it in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) or other text based page description. Storing the document in CCIT Group III Facsimile format is an example of a “universal” image format for black and white images. Group V is an example of a color format. TIFF is another example that incorporates many image types, as well as different compression formats and descriptive metadata.
PPE 650 may perform various tests on the inputted item and/or other results of the user interaction provided by block 4512E in accordance with one or more user controls. For example, if the sender has specified that he is sending a 6 page letter but only inputs five pages, PPE 650 may notice this discrepancy and notify the sender (
PPE 650 may embed any seals 4200, signatures 4300 or hidden signatures 4400 into the item if needed (
Depending upon the particular electronic controls being used, placement of the sender's signature or seal on the document may be based on the PPE 650's authentication of the sender as shown in FIG. 111—and may require an additional indication of assent from the sender—for example, pressing a “Yes” button, providing additional biometric or other identification information (e.g., “place your finger on the sensor if you want to sign this letter” or “Provide your mother's maiden name to sign this letter”). Such authentication is important for non-repudiation and to prevent fraud. The sender might actually sign his signature on a pressure-sensitive or magnetic-sensing signature capture and/or verification pad, provide a bit-map image of his signature by presenting a “smart card” storing it (plus using appropriate authentication techniques to assure that the bitmap image is being presented by the true signature owner), or provide enough information through user interaction as described above that the PPE 650 can access an electronic signature file containing the signature (e.g., stored locally within appliance 600 or accessible over network 672 from an archive).
In the multi-party execution example shown in
Appliance 600 may next place the item and associated electronic controls into one or more secure containers 302 (
Appliance 600 may, through further interaction with PPE 650, immediately and/or later provide a receipt such as shown in
For purposes of security and trustedness, PPE 650 may actually “issue” the receipt—although it may use various other portions of appliance 600 (e.g., receipt printer 4112A, display 4104, card/media reader 4108, 4132, etc.) to output the receipt to the sender 4052. PPE 650 may also or alternatively maintain a copy of the receipt information (and/or the audit information 4077 on which it is based) within its secure database 610 (see
Example Receive Process
Intended recipient 4056 may be given an option of accepting or declining delivery of the object (
PPE 650 may next securely authenticate the received item to ensure that it is not a counterfeit (
PPE 600 may analyze any seal or other secure information that is part of the item 4054. For example, although the item image may be captured and cropped by untrusted processes, the analysis of the image data is preferably done inside the PPE 650. Once the seal option of the image is identified, an analysis process will be run to recover the digital information stored in the seal (or steganographically encoded in the document). The next step is to determine what the expected values should be. To do this, the PPE 650 may make requests of an application program running locally to determine a user's expectations, may use a digital representation of a receipt or other audit data, and/or may contact a trusted go-between or other trusted third party to obtain the appropriate expected values. To facilitate this process, there may be some unencrypted information in the seal that can be used to establish a correlation with other information (e.g., a receipt, a transaction number, etc.). If such information is not available, a local store or a trusted third party might compare the entirety of the recovered digital information with stored records to determine such a correlation. In other cases, the expected values may be determined from context (e.g. a default set of expected values; or by examining the seal information itself, in either encrypted or decrypted form, for “tags” or other schema or semantic information).
Once the expectation values of the information is determined, any encrypted portion must be decrypted using the public key corresponding to the private key used above to make the seal. This key can be obtained using the mechanisms discussed in Ginter et al.
Once decrypted, the expected values may be compared with the actual values to determine correlation. Information about the correlation may be reported to a user and/or a third party, as appropriate. In addition, some or all of the seal information may be included in such report.
Once PPE 650 is satisfied that the received item is authentic, it may embed receipt related information into the item if the electronic controls 4078 associated with the item require it (
PPE 650 may next perform any required payment and/or other processing as needed (
Referring again to
Referring again to
If recipient 4056 wants to redistribute the item to another person (
Example Trusted Electronic Go-Between Detailed Architecture and Operation
In addition to the secure archive, witnessing and transaction management functions discussed above, trusted electronic go-between 4700 may perform additional services, such as, for example:
- notary services;
- provide an electronic trading environment allowing multiple parties to electronically auction goods or services;
- “clearing” transaction details, such as, payments, audit information and the like;
- acting as a “certifying authority” (see Shear et al. patent disclosure) by issuing digital certificates 4064;
- provide any or all of the various support and administrative services described in the Shear et al. patent disclosure;
- act as a trusted registry for electronic control sets;
- provide electronic or human arbitration, mediation or negotiation services to facilitate formation of agreements or electronic contracts;
- provide legal, accounting, architectural, design or other professional services;
- provide document assembly services;
- provide document disassembly and component distribution services;
- provide real estate, commercial or other closing or settlement services;
- provide court document docketing, filing or other services to assist a judiciary;
- provide document registry certification, witnessing and other services to assist a judge in ruling on the admissibility of evidence in a court of law;
- provide tax filing services including income tax form preparation, payment handling and the like;
- assist in communications between co-counsel, inside and outside corporate counsel, and/or opposing counsel;
- deliver highly confidential information critical to national security interests;
- international commerce and management of complicated international commercial transactions;
- stock and bond trading and/or brokerage;
- managing and/or coordinating internal organizational functions (e.g., corporate, government);
- provide currency conversion and arbitrage services;
- provide arbitrage services related to equity, bonds, options, and other financial instruments
- provide equity, bond, currency, options and other financial instruments trading, authentication, non-repudiation, transfer agent, and related administrative and/or support services;
- creation, execution, interface with, and use of “smart agents” as described in the co-pending Ginter et al., application (see
The trusted electronic go-between 4700 may comprise or include a “transaction authority” as disclosed in the above-referenced Shear et al. patent disclosure, and may have the same structure and architecture as shown in
The trusted electronic go-between 4700 may be one computer or many. It may be centralized or distributed. It may be public or private. It may be self-sufficient, or it may operate in conjunction with other go-betweens or other support services. It may be entirely automatic, or it may include functions and tasks that must be performed using human skills and expertise. It could be owned by a corporation or other organization, or it could be a cooperative. It could charge for its services, or it might offer its services free of charge.
As illustrated in
In another trusted go-between topology, each of the participants could have one or more trusted intermediaries that interact with each other on behalf of the participants.
In this specific example, additional electronic appliance 600B may be owned and/or operated by an entity having the legal authority to be an electronic notary public. The notary public protected processing environment 650B may execute a control set 914B relating to notary functions. Control set 914B in this example, has a reciprocal relationship between an overall control set 914A executed by a protected processing environment 650A of electronic appliance 600A. As shown in
The illustrated reciprocal control sets 914A, 914B may reciprocally interact as described above in connection with
- request certificate
- reply certificate
- validate certificate
- request “get document”
- reply “get document”
- calculate hash and other parameters
- make seal
- modify document
- request “send document”
- reply “send document”
- store document into secure database 610.
Similarly, the reciprocal control set 914A operated by electronic appliance protected processing environment 650A may include methods 1000 responding to reciprocal events, such as, for example:
- request initialize
- reply initialize
- response certificate
- response “get document”
- response “send document”
- additional reciprocal methods
The control sets 914B, 914A thus define and control the processing which go-between 4700 performs on documents and other items in order to notarize them. Human users may interact with this process if desired through optional user interfaces 4714, 4716. Such human intervention may be required under certain circumstances (for example, if a live human witness might be required to testify as to certain notarization facts, if the automatic processes determine that a fraud is being attempted, etc.). The dynamic interface technology described above can provide a mechanism for delivering a user interface through the system without direct intervention by the provider of the overall service with respect to user interface, and by the notary with respect to the customer relationship.
Example Trusted Go-Between Process Upon Item Receipt
Trusted electronic go-between 4700 may also archive transmission related data as determined by the electronic control set 4078 associated with the item 4054 being sent, the transaction type and/or sender and/or recipient information (
Trusted electronic go-between 4700 may next further process the received item 4054 in accordance with requirements provided by electronic control set 4078 (
- Applying signatures (digital, visual, or both)
- Applying seals (visual, hidden, steganographic)
- Inserting a third party seal
- Completing a sender seal
- Providing a handwritten signature
- Providing a steganographic electronic fingerprint
- Providing a visual electronic fingerprint
- Determining Privacy/Use Controls (e.g., modify/no modify and/or partial disclosure, recording public transactions, permitting disclosure only to those on authorization lists)
- Issuing receipts (e.g, to sender)
- Integrity Guarantees (e.g., no modifications permitted, no modifications other than signing permitted, no cut, paste, excerpting permitted)
- Contract execution functions such as:
- send offer to single and/or multiple recipients,
- send acceptance
- propose modification
- add comments
- negotiate (with our without saving negotiation history)
- execute contract
- degree/type of non-repudiation evidence required
- Teleconferencing options such as use of secure directory lookup (if address unknown), quality (speed) of connection, payment handling, and advanced options
- Audit functions
- Contract Settlement functions
- Archival functions such as
- archive digital “original”
- archive “sent” audit record
- archive “received” audit record
- archive negotiation history audit record(s)
- Length of time to store records (days, months, years, forever)
- Contents inaccessible to trusted-go-between (automated service only)
- Notary functions, for example:
- notarize digital “original”
- notarize sub-sections of digital “original”
- notarize “sent” audit record
- notarize “received” audit record
- notarize negotiation history audit record(s)
- Electronic negotiation functions, for example:
- Automated negotiations enabled (yes/no)
- Specific human go-between (if yes, who)
- Payment handling, for example:
- American Express
- EDI X.12
As part of this processing, trusted electronic go-between 4700 may, if necessary, redistribute the electronic container 302 to the intended recipient 4056 (
Example Trusted Go-Between Process to Archive and Redistribute an Item
Unless it already has the required permission to redistribute the object 300 (e.g., based on controls within the object's container 302), trusted go-between 4700 may need to request permission to redistribute (
If trusted go-between 4700 is unable to obtain the necessary additional permissions (“no” exit to decision block 4782,
Trusted go-between 4700 may perform appropriate payment processing (
Example Process for Trusted Go-Between to Provide an Item from its Secure Archives
In most instances, retrieving archived data requires a user to authenticate themselves, and present information identifying the container. Some containers may require more than one party to retrieve data (e.g., both the recipient and the sender), in most cases a user who is not party to the transaction cannot retrieve data (an exception could be a government authority, such as a court or tax auditor). In one interesting case, all electronic copies have been lost or were never stored (presumably, the archive only contains transaction information and a hash value).
In this example, the trusted go-between 4700 may authenticate the received request, and in the process may also satisfy itself that the requester has authorization to make the request (
Assuming the request and requester are both authentic, trusted go-between 4700 may access the requested item(s) from its secure archive 4702 (
In this example, trusted go-between 4700 may optionally notify the owner(s) or other interested parties of item 4054 that it has provided a copy to the authorized requester (
Example Contract Execution Process
Alice may indicate to protected processing environment 500 within her electronic appliance 600 that she wishes to sign the contract—thereby creating a legal “offer” (
In this response to this action, Alice's protected processing environment 500 may affix Alice's signature 4300 and/or appropriate personal seals 4200 to the contract (see
Upon receipt by Bob's electronic appliance (
Assume that Bob reads the contract, and agrees to sign it (
Alice's protected processing environment 500 may send notification of Alice's confirmation to Bob (
In this example, Alice's protected processing environment may also send a copy of the signed, sealed contract to a trusted go-between 4700 for notarization and/or archival purposes (see
In one specific example, the delivered contract can be a non-disclosure agreement co-delivered with an item(s) 4054 subject to the non-disclosure provisions of the agreement. Associated electronic controls automatically enforce the non-disclosure provisions of the agreement with respect to the co-delivered item(s) 4054.
Example Contract Execution Mediated by a Trusted Go-Between
Upon receiving the object (
Upon receipt of the object, Bob's protected processing environment 500 may open the container 302 (
The trusted go-between 4700 may notify Alice of Bob's intention to sign the contract (
The following are some non-exhaustive examples of how system 4050 provided by the present inventions can be used in a variety of different, illustrative contexts.
To prevent either party from later repudiating the contract 4068, trusted go-between 4700 may require certain secure indication(s) allowing the trusted go-between to verify that Bob and Ted are who they say they are. These indications required by trusted go-between 4700 should have sufficient reliability that they will later stand up in a court of law. One possibility is for trusted go-between 4700 to capture biometric information such as photographic images, fingerprints, handprints, retina patterns or the like. Another possibility is to rely on the digital signatures (and thus the security of the private keys) of Bob and Ted—possibly in conjunction with digital certificates and biometric sensing techniques as described above. In system 4050, Bob's private key and Ted's private key might never be exposed outside of their respective secure electronic appliances 600, 600′—preventing each of them from voluntarily exposing their private keys as a basis for repudiating the contract.
Trusted go-between 4700 may be completely electronic and automatic. It may receive container 302(1), and open the container to access the contract 4068 it contains. Trusted go-between 4700 may create a notarial seal 4200 on the document encoded with information encrypted using the trusted go-between's private key. This encrypted information might indicate the time and date the trusted go-between received the document; a digital certificate number that securely identifies the trusted go-between; and the “hash” value of the signed contract 4068 (see
Trusted go-between 4700 may then store the notarized document 4068′ within its secure electronic archive 4702. The trusted go-between 4700 may also, if desired, supply copies of the notarized document back to Bob (4070a) and Ted (4070b) within additional electronic containers so they each have record copies of the notarized contract 4068′.
Suppose a dispute arises between Bob and Ted. Bob wants to enforce the contract 4068 against Ted. Ted claims he never signed the contract. Trusted go-between 4700 supplies a copy of the notarized contract 4068′ to a court of law 5016 or other dispute resolver. By electronically analyzing the executed contract 4068′, the court 5016 can read the notarization assurance of trusted go-between 4700 that Ted did in fact execute contract 4068. So long as the trusted go-between 4700 required sufficient verification of Ted's identity before electronically notarizing the document 4068′, the court 5016 should accept the notarization as conclusive evidence that Ted executed it.
Because of the extremely high degree of trustedness possible using system 4050, the
This teleconferencing capability can be useful, for example, to allow sender 4052 and recipient 4056 to verify they each are who they say they are, and to assist in negotiating contract 4068 or otherwise discussing the content of an item 4054. In order to further assure the authenticity of the communication, a secure communications link may be established using key exchange techniques (e.g., Diffie-Hellman) and encryption of the signal between the stations.
Secure containers 302 may be used to encapsulate the video and audio being exchanged between electronic kiosk appliances 600, 600′ to maintain confidentiality and ensure a high degree of trustedness. Thus, in this example, each secure container 302(2) might contain some portion of or multiple video images and/or some portion of or multiple audio segments. Electronic appliances 600, 600′ can exchange such secure container 302(2) back and forth in rapid succession to provide real time audio and video transmission In order to improve performance, the containers themselves may remain at the users' sites, and only the encrypted contents transmitted between the participants. This may allow one or two containers to protect the entire communications between the parties.
In still another variation, the teleconferencing shown in
Doctor Management/Coordination of Health Records
- neither document can be modified;
- each document is highly confidential;
- patient record 5004 may be revealed only to the patient's insurance company 5008; and
- drug prescription 5006 may be revealed only to the patient 5002 and to the patient's chosen drug store 5010.
The doctor 5000 may then send container 302(1) to a trusted go-between 4700. Trusted go-between 4700 could be a computer within a doctor's office, or it could be a commercially operated trusted go-between specializing in health care transactions or usable in general types of transactions. Trusted go-between 4700 might be instructed by electronic controls 4078 to time and date stamp electronic container 302(1) upon receipt, and to store the electronic container within its secure archive 4702. It might also be instructed to maintain patient records 5004 completely confidential (indeed, controls 4078 may prevent the trusted go-between 4700 from itself having any access to these patient records), but to forward a copy of the patient records 5004 to the patient's insurance company 5008 so the insurance company can pay for the medical services rendered by the doctor 5000. For example, the trusted go-between 4700 in one example has no access to the content of the container 302(1), but does have a record of a seal of the contents. If trusted go-between 4700 has the seal, it can interact with other parties to confirm the contents of the seal—without needing to know or disclosing (as the case may be) the contents. Controls 4078 might also instruct trusted go-between 4700 to forward the drug prescription 5006 to the patient's selected drug store 5010 upon the request of patient 5002.
The patient 5002 could make such a forwarding request, for example, by operating an intelligent kiosk 600′ at the drug store 5010. The patient's electronic request 5012 could be sent to trusted go-between 4700, which in response might retrieve the drug prescription 5006 from its secure archive and forward it electronically within a secure container 302(3) to the drug store 5010 chosen by patient 5002.
One of the patient records 5004 might be a consent form that was executed by patient 5002. To help prevent the patient 5002 from later repudiating his consent, doctor 5000 might register this consent form with trusted go-between 4700—which could then “witness” it by notarizing it and affixing its seal, date stamp and/or digital signature. Trusted go-between 4700 could provide this consent form 5014 to a court of law 5016 and/or medical malpractice company in the event that patient 5002 sued the doctor for medical malpractice.
Complex Business Transaction
Trusted go-between 4700 registers the contract 4068, and then creates an electronic list of rules based on contract 4068. A partial example rule list is shown in
Trusted go-between 4700 may need to communicate with each of a number of parties in order to determine whether the conditions have been satisfied. For example:
- trusted go-between 4700 may need to confirm, via a secure communication 302(2) with an escrow bank 5040, that the buyer 5034 and buyer's agent 5038 have deposited a purchase money deposit with the escrow bank;
- trusted go-between 4700 may assist buyer 5034 in creating and filing loan applications with one or more banks 5042, along with supporting documentation, and may require confirmation from the lending bank 5042 that the buyer's financing has been approved so the transaction can go forward;
- trusted go-between may have to coordinate with an inspector, appraiser and/or surveyor 5044 to ensure that house 5032 has no termites, has an appraised value in excess of the value buyer 5034 is attempting to borrow from lender 5042, has been properly surveyed as required by the lender, etc.;
- trusted go-between 4700 may need to coordinate with a lawyer 5046 to ensure that the title to the property for sale is clear and unencumbered; and
- trusted go-between 4700 may need to communicate with other parties to take care of other details leading up to the transaction completion.
In this example, trusted go-between 4700 may receive electronic notifications in secure containers 302 as each step in the overall process is completed. As illustrated in FIG. A3A, trusted go-between 4700 can electronically check each completed condition off of its electronically-maintained condition list as it receives such event notifications. Trusted go-between 4700 maintains this electronic list 4704 in a secure, validated and authenticated manner using system 4050—requiring, for example, receipt of electronic containers having event notifications that are signed cryptographically with one or more digital signatures from the appropriate parties. In this way, trusted go-between 4700 can maintain a highly reliable and validated, authenticated audit of the transaction steps as the overall transaction proceeds.
In addition, trusted go-between 4700 may, if desired, be empowered to issue additional requirements and/or instructions to facilitate the progress of the transaction. For example, trusted go-between 4700 might be a private trusted go-between operated by lender 5042—and thus, might be empowered to select which lawyer 5046 to use and to send that lawyer, automatically, appropriate instructions and forms for completing the transaction. As another example, the trusted go-between 4700 may be part of the business operated by lawyer 5046 or other settlement agent, and may thus be empowered to select and instruct escrow bank 5040.
When trusted go-between 4700 determines, based on the electronic rules/control set 4704 and the notifications it has received that all conditions for settlement have been satisfied, the trusted go-between may allow the “atomic transaction” to settle by issuing appropriate notifications and/or instructions—once again using secure electronic containers 302 and the receipt, verification, authentication, and other mechanisms discussed above to ensure reliability, confidentiality and a high degree of trustedness. For example:
- The trusted go-between 4700 might instruct the lender 5042 to deposit the loan proceeds into loan escrow bank 5040. Upon receiving notification from escrow bank 5040 that the loan proceeds have been properly deposited and the money is available, the trusted go-between 4700 could instruct escrow bank 5040 to transfer the funds to seller's bank 5048 and thereby release the seller's outstanding mortgage on the property.
- Trusted go-between 4700 might also instruct escrow bank 5040 to transfer or otherwise pay the seller's agent 5036 and the buyer's agent 5038 their appropriate commissions as set forth in contract 4068.
- Trusted go-between 4700 might also notarize the deed which seller 5030 has executed in favor of buyer 5034, and could electronically file the deed with the court 5016 (or other governmental authority) for recordation.
- Trusted go-between 4700 might also at the same time file the lender's 5042 deed of trust and a release executed by the seller's bank 5048.
All of these various coordination steps can be performed nearly simultaneously, efficiently, rapidly and with an extremely high degree of trustedness based on the user of electronic containers 302 and the secure communications, authentication, notarization and archiving techniques provided in accordance with the present inventions.
Court Filings and Docket Management
For example, defendant's attorney 5052 can specify one container 302 for opening by his co-counsel, client or client's in-house counsel, and program another container 302 for opening only by opposing (plaintiffs) counsel 5050. Because of the unique trustedness features provided by system 4050, the defendant's attorney 5052 can have a high degree of trust and confidence that only the authorized parties will be able to open the respective containers and access the information they contain.
Appliances 600, 600′ may issue highly trusted and reliable return receipts as described above. These highly trusted electronic return receipts may substitute for certificates of service if court 5016 permits.
The lawyers 5050, 5052 can also electronically file any of these exchanged documents with the court 5056 by sending the documents to the clerk 5054 via secure electronic containers 302. In this example, the clerk 5054 may actually be a computerized trusted go-between 4700 (represented here by a person but implemented in practice in whole or in part by one or more secure electronic appliances 600). The clerk 5054 may present a digital certificate evidencing that it is authorized to open a secure container 302 it has received. The clerk may then date stamp each received document (this may involve placing a seal 4200 on the document but more typically might involve simply placing a digital time signature on the document). The clerk 5054 may file the document electronically within a secure electronic archive 4702 that can provide a database for linking related documents together.
The judge 5056 might have a secure electronic appliance 600 in the courtroom or in chambers that could be used to view and/or print documents from the secure electronic archive 4702. The judge 5056 could instantly call up any filing to determine when it was received by the clerk 5054 and to review its contents. Different authorizations and/or encryption strengths could be used with respect to publicly available documents and documents under seal (for example, so that sealed documents could only be opened by the judge 5056 or her staff).
The judge 5056 could write her orders and opinions using electronic appliance 600. She could then send these documents within a secure electronic container 302(3) for filing by the clerk 5054 in secure electronic archive 4702, and for automatic service on the lawyers 5050, 5052.
In this example, the clerk/trusted go-between 4700 could also be used to ensure compliance with the local rules of court. For example, the clerk/trusted go-between 4700 could maintain, in electronic form, electronic controls 4078 indicating the time and formal requirements with respect to different kinds of filings. The clerk/trusted go-between 4700 could automatically check all incoming filings from the lawyers 5050, 5052 to ensure compliance with the local rules, and to issue notices and other appropriate forms in accordance with the local rules. Use of a dynamic interface technology may be used to generate and deliver a set of controls to the sender's system that defines the parameters of receipt—and default controls may be used to specify appropriate parameters, formats, etc.
- accessible by inhouse counsel 5052A and CEO 5052B only (e.g., for privileged, attorney-client communications);
- accessible by the court 5016, plaintiff's counsel 5050, inhouse counsel 5052A, CEO 5052B (e.g., for court filings not under seal);
- accessible by the court 5016, plaintiff's counsel 5050, and inhouse counsel 5052A but not CEO 5052B (e.g., for court filings under seal);
- accessible by the court 5016 only (e.g., for documents being reviewed in camera).
Note that in this example, documents can be controlled independently of where they are routed. For example, defendant's litigating counsel 5052 could specify electronic controls that would allow court 5016 to access a document that need not be filed with the court but which might be of interest to the court at a later date (e.g., letter between opposing counsel later used as an exhibit to a motion). The fact of document transmission (along with some information about the document such as document title and identifier) could be transmitted without actually transmitting the document itself—allowing the court to retrieve the document itself independently at a later time if desired.
Patent Office Automation
Upon receiving the patent application 5062, a trusted go-between 4700 within the Patent Office 5064 could open the container 302(1) and access the patent application 5062. Trusted go-between 4700 could electronically examine the patent application 5062 to ensure it meets all formal requirements, and could also date/time stamp the received patent application in order to document its filing date.
Trusted go-between 4700 could automatically issue the inventor 5060 a filing receipt based upon secure receipt of the patent application 5062 using the return receipt techniques described above. Trusted go-between 4700 could then deposit the patent application 5062 into a secure electronic archive 4702 to await examination. Trusted go-between 4700 could include appropriate routing information based on a routing slip as described above to route the patent application 5062 to the appropriate group and/or patent examiner 5064 within the Patent Office 5064.
A patent examiner 5064 could examine the patent application 5062 by requesting a copy of it from electronic archive 4702. All communications could take place within secure electronic containers 302(2) to ensure confidentiality and reliability—completely avoiding the problem of lost files. The patent examiner 5064 could conduct prior art searches using the same electronic appliance 600′ used to review the patent application 5062. The examiner 5064 could print out a copy of the patent application 5062 as desired.
The patent examiner 5064 could also use electronic appliance 600′ to draft office actions and notices. The examiner 5064 could communicate these notices and actions via trusted go-between 4700 to the inventor 5060. Trusted go-between 4700 could maintain copies of the examiner's actions and notices within secure electronic archive 4702—ensuring their confidentiality and also making sure they do not become lost. System 4050 could provide a return receipt when the inventor 5060 opened the electronic container 302 containing the examiner's actions or notices—thus proving in a highly reliable and trusted fashion that the inventor had in fact received what the examiner sent. Similarly, inventor 5060 could file responses (and could even teleconference with the examiner 5064) via electronic appliance 600. The high degree of trustedness and confidentiality provided by system 4050 along with the return receipt and other options discussed above provide a highly reliable, confidential communications means that can be used to demonstrate when items were actually filed.
Once the examiner—after conducting a lengthy prior art search and carefully analyzing the patent application 5062 to ensure that the invention is patentable—is fully and completely satisfied that the inventor 5060 is entitled to a patent, the examiner 5064 could instruct the trusted go-between 4700 to grant the application as a patent. Trusted go-between 4700 could retrieve a copy of the application 5062 from the secure electronic archive 4702, use automatic means to transform it into an issued patent, and insert a seal 4200 (for example, bearing the digital certificate of the Patent Office 5064) onto the document. The trusted go-between 4700 could then issue the granted patent 5066 to the inventor 5060 by sending it in a secure electronic container 302(3) —thus ensuring that it does not get lost and is in fact received by the inventor.
Members of the public could obtain a copy of the issued patent 5066 by requesting one from trusted go-between 4700. Trusted go-between 4700 could maintain a copy of the issued patent 5066 within secure electronic archive 4702, along with electronic controls 4078 that specify the document is a matter of public record and can be disclosed to members of the public. Other documents in secure electronic archive 4702 (e.g., patent applications 5062 that have not yet been published) can be maintained confidential by use of electronic controls 4078 specifying that only certain people (e.g., patent examiner 5064) can access them.
The disclosure service could also simply send the inventor a signed hash value, and then discard the document; since the hash value could be used with a copy preserved by the inventor. The service could archive the signed hash value themselves as well (although that is not required).
Tax Filing System
Appliance 600 may help the taxpayer 4052 complete her tax return 5070. For example, the appliance 600 could ask a series of questions based on a preprogrammed electronic script. The appliance 600 could calculate the taxes owed, and—once taxpayer 4052 approved the tax return 5070—allow the taxpayer to electronically sign the return as described above. Appliance 600 could accept tax payments via credit or smart cards, debit authorizations from bank accounts, etc. Appliance 600 could also issue a paper or electronic receipt to the taxpayer 4052 assuring the taxpayer that the tax return 5070 has been filed. A court might accept this receipt as evidence of timely filing.
Tax authority 5072 may include an internal trusted go-between 4700 that registers and securely date stamps all tax return filings 5070 and places them into a secure electronic archive 4702. The trusted go-between 4700 can also analyze each tax return 5070 to ensure that it complies with electronic rules embodying the tax laws (some of this process could be performed by humans and some by computers if desired). Trusted go-between 4700 can provide, to a payment mechanism 5074, an electronic container 302(2) requesting the payment mechanism to issue a refund to (or collect a deficiency from) the tax payer 4052. In one example, payment can be in the form of electronic currency carried within one or more secure containers 302(3). If the return is structured appropriately for automated processing, tax calculations and application of relevant tax rules can also be automated by the trusted go-between.
Inter and Intra Organization Communications
- send the memo (in secure containers) in “round robin” fashion to each of users 600(A)(1), 600(A)(3) and 600(A)(5) for approval.
- If any one of these users changes the memo, then trusted go-between 4700(A) can circulate the revised memo to the other two for additional comments and revisions.
- Once all three of users 600(A)(1), 600(A)(3) and 600(A)(5) approve the memo, trusted go-between 4700(A) may be empowered to place each of their digital and/or handwritten signatures or initials on the memo, place it into one or more secure containers with a control set specifying it is read only and can only be read by users 600(A)(1)-600(A)(3), 600(A)(5), 600(A)(7)-600(A)(10) and 600(A)(12).
- Trusted go-between 4700(A) may then send a copy of the memo in a container to each of these users, or could require the same container to circulate from one to another.
- The trusted go-between 4700 may require the electronic controls to maintain a secure audit trail indicating where the container has been, who has opened it, who has accessed the memo it contains, and when. Trusted go-between 4700(A) might thus increase personal accountability by evidencing whether a particular person had seen a particular document, when, and for how long.
Organization A's Intranet 5104 might also be used to exchange and/or distribute highly confidential design specifications. System 4050 can provide a highly secure audit trail indicating who has had access to a container containing the confidential design specifications; when the person(s) accessed it; and what they did with the specification (print a copy, view it on screen for so many minutes, make a copy of it, etc.) System 4050 (with or without the assistance of a trusted go-between 4700(A) can also maintain, in digital form, a detailed record of who has “signed off” on the design specifications—thus ensuring personal accountability and providing a high degree of efficiency.
Private transaction authorities 4700(A), 4700(B) can also provide a “firewall” function to protect confidential information from escaping to outside of the respective organizations A, B. Suppose for example that organization A is an integrated circuit design house and organization B is an integrated circuit foundry. Organization A designs and specifies the circuit layout of a chip, producing a “tape out” that it sends to organization B. Organization B manufactures an integrated circuit based on the “tape out”, and delivers chips to organization A.
System 4050 can be used to facilitate the above business transaction while protecting confidentiality within each of organizations A and B. For example:
- organization A's private trusted go-between 4700(A) can supervise an overall design and specification development effort within organization A. All communications take place in secure containers 302 over organization A's Intranet 5100(A) to maintain confidentiality. Trusted go-between 4700(A) can maintain a secure archive of historical design documents, works in progress, and specification versions as the design process progresses.
- Organization A's private trusted go-between 4700(A) can manage the final design specification development—ensuring that all conditions required to finalize the design specifications are followed.
- Once the design specification has been finalized, trusted go-between 4700(A) can circulate it within secure containers 302 to those individuals within organization A that need to “sign off” on it. Their respective appliances 600(A)(1), . . . 600(A)(k) can affix and/or embed digital signatures, handwritten signatures, seals and/or electronic fingerprints as described above to indicate specification approval.
- Upon being satisfied that the specification has been “signed off” by the appropriate people, trusted go-between 4700(A) can send it over Internet 1104 within a secure container 302 to public trusted go-between 4700(C). Public trusted go-between 4700(C) may be a commercial trusted go-between retained by organizations A and B to act as a liaison between them. Organization A's private trusted go-between 4700(A) can filter (or protect) all information it sends to public trusted go-between 4700(C) to ensure that organization B can access only that information intended for it. For example, private trusted go-between 4700(A) might provide additional electronic controls within the container to prevent organization B from seeing any detailed audit information showing where the specification has been within organization A.
- The public trusted go-between 4700(C) might act as an independent trusted third party, notarizing the design specification to later evidence that organization A delivered it on a particular date and time in accordance with a contract.
- Public trusted go-between 4700(C) could then forward the design specification (still within a secure container) over Internet 5104 to organization B's private trusted go-between 4700(B).
- Organization B's private trusted go-between 4700(B) could automatically send a copy of the design specification over organization B's Intranet 5100(B) to the appropriate users 600(B)(1), 600(B),(N) within organization B. No one outside of organization B would need to know who received a copy of the specification. On the other hand, organization A's trusted go-between 4700(A) could, if desired, include electronic controls restricting access to only certain engineers within organization B—and these secure controls would be carried along into organization B and securely enforced by electronic appliances 600(B)(1), . . . , 600(B)(N).
- Organization B's trusted go-between 4700(B) could manage the chip manufacturing process, ensuring that all steps and conditions required to manufacture chips in accordance with organization A's design specification are followed.
Integration with Communications Switching
Telecommunications are becoming ubiquitous in post-industrial societies. As a convenience to customers, the trusted go-between could offer many of its services as part of, or in conjunction with providers of telecom services. In one non-limiting example shown in
After selection of delivery options and trusted go-between services, and after making arrangements for payment, the sender's computer 5102 faxes the document pages 4058d, 4058e, 4058h to the trusted go-between 4700. In one example, the trusted go-between 4700 applies seals 4200 to each page 4058d, 4058e, 4058f of the faxed document and an additional seal for the overall document. The trusted go-between 4700 then faxes the sealed document to the recipient fax machine 5104. The trusted go-between 4700 also archives and notarizes the sealed document in case the sender or other authorized party requires proof that the document was sent on a particular time and date to a device with a particular telephone number. In the event that the sender's and/or recipient's appliance is VDE aware (e.g., fax machine 4014c equipped with a protected processing environment 650), this service will be provided with additional levels of security and trustedness.
In another example, the sender may prefer to have the document delivered in a secure container over a network such as the Internet, in which case, the sender may indicate the recipient's network address. The sender may connect a personal computer 5102 with a modem to another special number and send a digital item to the trusted go-between 4700 using Internet protocols. In this one example, the sender may not have yet installed VDE, and so the trusted go-between takes the document or item and puts it in a secure container along with controls selected by the sender and delivers the secure container to the recipient, who in this example, does have VDE installed.
These examples illustrate the more general point that the trusted go-between 4700 may provide a range of value-added services even to parties who do not yet have the VDE installed on their appliances, and can enhance the security and trustedness of item delivery nevertheless.
While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiment, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.
1. A method for using a trusted computer system to facilitate the execution of a contract between a first party and a second party, the method comprising the steps of:
- authenticating an identity of the first party, the first party being located at a site that is different from a site at which the computer system is located;
- authenticating an identity of the second party;
- facilitating execution of the contract by the first party;
- facilitating execution of the contract by the second party; and
- generating a secure electronic container containing at least the contract in digital form.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein at least one of the authenticating steps makes use of one or more methods selected from the group consisting of: display of video camera images, password identification, biometric sensor identification, and proof of possession of a smartcard.
3. The method of claim 1, in which the contract has one or more pieces of attribute information securely associated therewith, the one or more pieces of attribute information being selected from the group consisting of: an electronic seal, an image of a handwritten signature, a visible electronic fingerprint, and a hidden electronic fingerprint.
4. The method of claim 1, in which the contract has one or more electronic seals associated therewith, the one or more electronic seals including at least some information selected from the group consisting of: information identifying the trusted computer system, information attesting to satisfaction of one or more requirements prior to execution of the contract, information attesting to the identity of the first party and/or the second party, and information attesting to authorization of the first party and/or the second party to execute the contract.
5. The method of claim 1, further comprising the steps of sending the secure electronic container or a copy thereof to the first party, and sending the secure electronic container or a copy thereof to the second party.
6. The method of claim 1, in which the trusted computer system comprises a computer system of the second party, the computer system comprising a protected processing environment that is resistant to tampering by the second party.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of monitoring a set of one or more requirements that must be satisfied before execution of the contract is allowed.
8. The method of claim 7, further comprising the step of notifying the first party of one or more requirements that remain to be satisfied before execution of the contract is allowed.
9. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of facilitating negotiation between the first party and the second party.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising the steps of:
- facilitating execution of the contract by a third party; and
- authenticating an identity of the third party.
11. The method of claim 10, further comprising the steps of:
- facilitating execution of the contract by a fourth party; and
- authenticating an identity of the fourth party.
12. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of obtaining controls with respect to the contract from one or more of the first and second parties.
13. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of sending audit information to one or more of the parties.
14. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of processing payment information.
15. The method of claim 1, wherein the first party generates the contract.
16. The method of claim 15, in which the first party sends the contract and one or more controls to the trusted computer system, the one or more controls specifying one or more requirements relating to execution of the contract.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the first party generates the contract using a word processor.
18. A computer-readable medium comprising program code, the program code being operable, when executed by an electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform steps comprising:
- authenticating an identity of a first party, the first party being located at a site that is different from a site at which the electronic appliance is located;
- authenticating an identity of a second party;
- facilitating execution of a contract by the first party;
- facilitating execution of the contract by the second party; and
- generating a secure electronic container containing at least the contract in digital form.
19. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform a step selected from the group consisting of: displaying a video camera image of the first party, performing password identification, performing biometric sensor identification, and requiring proof of possession of a smartcard.
20. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to securely associate attribute information with the contract, the attribute information being selected from the group consisting of: an electronic seal, an image of a handwritten signature, a visible electronic fingerprint, and a hidden electronic fingerprint.
21. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to securely associate one or more electronic seals with the contract, the one or more electronic seals including at least some information selected from the group consisting of: information identifying the electronic appliance, information attesting to satisfaction of one or more requirements prior to execution of the contract, information attesting to the identity of the first party and/or the second party, and information attesting to authorization of the first party and/or the second party to execute the contract.
22. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the steps of sending the secure electronic container or a copy thereof to the first party, and sending the secure electronic container or a copy thereof to the second party.
23. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, in which the electronic appliance is an electronic appliance of the second party, and comprises a protected processing environment that is resistant to tampering by the second party.
24. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the step of monitoring a set of one or more requirements that must be satisfied before execution of the contract is allowed.
25. The computer-readable medium of claim 24, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the step of notifying the first party of one or more requirements that remain to be satisfied before execution of the contract is allowed.
26. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the step of facilitating negotiation between the first party and the second party.
27. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the steps of:
- facilitating execution of the contract by a third party; and
- authenticating an identity of the third party.
28. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the step of obtaining controls with respect to the contract from one or more of the first and second parties.
29. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the step of sending audit information to one or more of the parties.
30. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, further including program code that is operable, when executed by the electronic appliance, to cause the electronic appliance to perform the step of processing payment information.
31. A system for facilitating execution of a contract between a first party and a second party, the system comprising:
- means for authenticating an identity of the first party;
- means for authenticating an identity of the second party;
- means for facilitating execution of the contract by the first party;
- means for facilitating execution of the contract by the second party; and
- means for generating a secure electronic container containing at least the contract in digital form.
32. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for associating one or more pieces of attribute information with the contract, the one or more pieces of attribute information being selected from the group consisting of: an electronic seal, an image of a handwritten signature, a visible electronic fingerprint, and a hidden electronic fingerprint.
33. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for associating one or more electronic seals with the contract, the one or more electronic seals including at least some information selected from the group consisting of: information identifying a trusted computer system, information attesting to satisfaction of one or more requirements prior to execution of the contract, information attesting to the identity of the first party and/or the second party, and information attesting to authorization of the first party and/or the second party to execute the contract.
34. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for sending the secure electronic container or a copy thereof to the first party, and sending the secure electronic container or a copy thereof to the second party.
35. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for monitoring a set of one or more requirements that must be satisfied before execution of the contract is allowed.
36. The system of claim 35, further comprising means for notifying the first party of one or more requirements that remain to be satisfied before execution of the contract is allowed.
37. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for facilitating negotiation between the first party and the second party.
38. The system of claim 31, further comprising:
- means for facilitating execution of the contract by a third party; and
- means for authenticating an identity of the third party.
39. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for obtaining controls with respect to the contract from one or more of the first and second parties.
40. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for sending audit information to one or more of the parties.
41. The system of claim 31, further comprising means for processing payment information.
Filed: Jul 20, 2007
Publication Date: Oct 9, 2008
Inventors: Karl L. Ginter (Beltsville, MD), Victor H. Shear (Alamo, CA), Francis J. Spahn (El Cerrito, CA), David M. Van Wie (Eugene, OR), Robert P. Weber (Menlo Park, CA)
Application Number: 11/781,024
International Classification: H04L 9/00 (20060101); H04L 9/32 (20060101);