Back in July, we featured a post on how PDFs can make documents more secure. There we shared basics about how the Portable Document Format enhances document security so that users can securely store data and view it, as well as some best practices for keeping data safe with PDFs.
Let’s expand the discussion now to drill down into exactly why PDF files are used for legal documents. We’ll also share some tips and resources on PDF signatures, including how you can use the WPS Office for Android app features to generate this secure form of signing documents.
Meeting Legal Document Requirements
Sometimes you want secure files, but other times you absolutely need them. In the case of documentation used in a court of law, many file formats are inadmissible in a legal setting since they are so easy to alter with no visible electronic footprint. Documents created in Word (.DOC extensions), for example, are designed for text editing, and someone can easily alter them without leaving an electronic footprint. Same goes for TIFF, JPEG, and GIF file formats. In order to use these formats in court, you’d need to first copy them to a DVD or CD-R, since optical media can’t be changed and are thus legally admissible in court.
In order to avoid the extra legwork of copying files over to optical media at the time of scanning, you can instead use a PDF file. Since PDFs are “read only” documents, if anyone tries to modify them, an electronic footprint will remain. Therefore, PDF files successfully meet all requirements for legal documents in a court of law.
Here are a few reasons why PDFs are able to offer this high level of security on a legal level:
- Password protection. When you use a PDF file, it’s possible to include user-password security for the document. When you add a user password to your PDF, you can email the PDF to different devices and locations without worrying about unauthorized usage or viewing.
- Cross-platform compatibility. Whether you need to send a file over a network, intranet, or Internet, the PDF’s design allows you to share information across multiple platforms. A PDF document is easily transferable because it exists independently of the OS, hardware, and application software that created it.
- Used by the federal courts. If it’s good enough for the U.S. Federal Courts to use, that says a lot. Adobe originally developed the PDF specifically so that the U.S. Federal Government could securely store its legacy files. The government still relies on PDFs for many purposes (and is in fact the largest user of PDF technology), and additionally, the U.S. Federal Courts also adopted PDFs as their electronic document format of choice.