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Archive for April, 2010

Wikipedia as Evidence in Federal Court

Remember our discussions about tendering Wikipedia as evidence in court? Seems it’s been happening for some time, and judges are not amused.

The Globe reports today that Federal Court judges are taking issue with the practice of immigration officials who have entered Wikipedia entries in immigration proceedings,

“Wikipedia is an internet Encyclopedia which anyone with Internet access can edit,” wrote one exasperated Federal Court judge, criticizing Ottawa’s filings in a case to remove a family of Turkish asylum seekers.

“It is an open-source reference with no editorial control,” scoffed another judge, as he took federal agents to task for consulting

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Is It Ethical to Draft a Will for a Client You Have Never Met in Person?

I understand that the Ethics Committee of the Benchers of the Law Society of BC are meeting today and are considering whether it is ethical for a lawyer to draft a will for a client whom he or she has never met in person.

This question is interesting to me because Heritage Law currently offers simple estate planning services to clients entirely over the internet through a secure online portal on our firm web site. We received approval to do so from the Law Society of BC in January.

In the interest of hopefully avoiding a precedent such as the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dean of Schulich School of Law

The Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University has a new Dean, Kimberly (Kim) Brooks. What follows is from the official announcement:

Professor Brooks graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Laws from UBC and a Master of Laws (Taxation) from York University, Osgoode Hall Law School. Between UBC and York she worked for the firm Stikeman Elliott as a tax lawyer. Presently she holds the H. Heward Stikeman Chair in the Law of Taxation in the Faculty of Law at McGill University, having previously held appointments in the Faculties of Law at UBC and . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements

Google Releases Data on Government Requests for Private User Data

Interesting coincidence? Not sure who is the real threat to privacy.

Yesterday, privacy regulators from 10 countries (Canada, Israel, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K.) attacked search giant Google for allegedly lax privacy practices.

And yesterday, Google started publishing stats on requests from law enforcement agencies from around the world to hand over private user data:

“Again, the vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations. However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available. We believe that greater transparency will lead

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Posted in: Technology: Internet

Facebook Tip: Save Your Sanity by Turning Off Farmville Updates

I am reasonably sure the number of Farmville updates appearing on Facebook News feeds is approaching the number of spam emails sent each day. We need to stop this madness! I say this with all due respect to my friends who are clearly Farmville addicts.

There is an easy way to prevent Farmville updates appearing on your Wall. Simply put your mouse over the item, and click the Hide Farmville button. This will block Farmville updates from appearing on your wall.

Note that this works for updates from any other annoying Facebook apps like Mafia Wars or Birthday Gifts. It . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Online Anonymity in English

Kathy English discusses this past weekend in The Star some of the issues of online commenting which have been raised here recently,

Would you be willing to express your opinions under your real names?

Can news organizations find a way to compel online commenters to speak out under their true identities? Should the media ever unmask anonymous commenters? Can the courts force them to do so? Should they?

Most importantly, is the end of online anonymity near?

These are important questions now under consideration in news organizations and courts throughout North America. This week, a Nova Scotia judge ordered both

. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology: Internet

Mid-Week Meander: Volcano Photos

I interrupt regularly scheduled programming to wander us a little off course. I’ve come across a collection of three dozen stunning photographs of what I’m now referring to as the volcano in Iceland. These are amazing shots of not just the smoke and fire but also Icelanders and farms in the vicinity of the eruption. The work of Belgian photographer Olivier Vandeginste, these are well worth a five minute break for viewing. With apologies to M. Vanderginste, I offer you a small portion of one of these beauties below, just to tempt you to the originals.

UPDATE: It’s been pointed . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Wit, Dry.

Witty not being an adjective often used to describe legal judgments, it is worthwhile to further highlight a judgment that some might have seen in the Globe and Mail: “Witty judgment wins out in lottery dispute”.

(2009) 98 O.R. (3d) 432 is well worth your time to read, I don’t want to give anything away so I will just add that Justice Quinn makes excellent use of footnotes. . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Polygamy Reference: One to Watch

British Columbia, home of Bountiful, the town that boasts a sect of religious polygamists, finally bit the bullet a while back and took steps to clarify the legality of polygamy in Canada. After a false start through criminal charges against two men (see Blackmore v. British Columbia (Attorney General) 2009 BCSC 1299, the province began a reference in the B.C. Supreme Court under the Constitutional Question Act R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 68, s. 1, asking:

a. Is section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If not, in what

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Laptop Spy Lawsuit / Scandal

There is a lawsuit and a criminal investigation underway resulting from a school outside of Philadelphia that secretly took pictures of students with webcams on laptops supplied by the school.

The idea was to use the webcams only in cases where a laptop was reported stolen. It is alleged however that school officials turned on the webcams simply to spy on the students for their own curiosity.

More details and commentary can be found on Techdirt, Boing Boing, and this AP story.

It’s hard to sort out reality from posturing, but it doesn’t look good for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology

New Look for Ontario E-Laws Website

The Ontario e-Laws legislative website has a new look and feel to bring it in line with Ontario government website standards.

The retro avocado green-colored banner is interesting if somewhat garish. That aside, the site appears to retain the same functionality, albeit with frequently-accessed links in slightly different locations.

Presumably one thing driving this is the government’s obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11, to make their website more accessible to persons with disabilities (as explained here by the government).

Expect to see much more discussion in the near future in law . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet