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Archive for ‘Administration of Slaw’

Digital Assets Revisited

A recent news story, on CBC and elsewhere, told of a woman whose son went missing for two years. When she found his body (in a morgue), she did not know why he died. She has been trying to get information about his social media accounts, in order to see if there was something particular on his mind that might explain his death.

She has not been very successful, especially with the US social media giants like Yahoo and Google. (She did get an order from a Canadian court that got her some information from Canadian sources.)

Question: should the . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Prescribing Technology by Law

Lately we discussed on this blog U.S. legislation appearing to validate contracts or signatures done by blockchain, by saying that ‘electronic record’ and ‘electronic signature’ under the states’ e-transactions legislation included blockchain. There was considerable thought that this was not necessary, that the conclusion was obvious (or badly wrong, if there could be a non-electronic blockchain).

Apparently this kind of legislation has been around for a long time. Here is a note (h/t Ian Kyer) about Pennsylvania legislation in the 1890s saying that typewriting was writing for all legal purposes. Could this have been previously in doubt, given that printed . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

A Slaw Tips Milestone! Plus, a Call for New Tipsters

Today, Slaw Tips hit a remarkable milestone: one thousand tips!

Launched in 2011, the site’s very first tips dealt with turning off pop-up email notifications, finding moved web pages and preventing your firm’s star performers from being poached–all still relevant today.

Our current and past contributors are a talented team of practicing lawyers, librarians, consultants and entrepreneurs–smart folks who generously share their wisdom with our 15,000 monthly visitors.

We tip our hats (pun fully intended!) to all our past and present Tips authors: thank you for sharing your insight, skill, humour and enthusiasm with the Slaw community. . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Announcements

No Bitcoin Fund in Ontario, Says OSC

Last month the Ontario Securities Commission refused to approve a prospectus for a fund that proposed to invest in bitcoin. The investment did not have enough liquidity, i.e. investors could not be certain enough that they could sell their investment when they wanted to. A summary is here.

The OSC also had concerns about the valuation of bitcoin (surprise!) and its safekeeping. Given the number of thefts of cryptocurrency in recent years, and the Quadriga mess, the latter concern may be justified as well.

What do you think? Is the OSC just doing its job, or is it not . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Still More on Electronic Wills

Here are some further thoughts on how Canada might authorize electronic wills. Perhaps the Uniform Law Conference of Canada could use them in the mix of policy proposals when and if it takes up the topic, as it is almost bound to do sooner or later – as companion jurisdictions move towards law reform.

Speaking of those jurisdictions:

• In July, 2018, the Uniform Law Commission in the US gave first reading to its Uniform Electronic Wills Act. No further draft has been released to follow up on the discussion. The developments in that project so far are online at

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Do We Need Right-to-Repair Legislation?

The ABA’s technology journal has an article advocating legislation to give consumers (or everybody) a right to repair their devices. What this does is prohibit manufacturers from making their devices impossible or dauntingly difficult for the owner to repair, and often for professional mechanics to do as well.

The article gives several examples of the difficulties deliberately created by manufacturers to this end. Its focus is electronic devices, but many other types of goods have also raised the question.

Sometimes repairs can be done by service centres related to the manufacturer, but even then the repairs can be very expensive, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, ulc_ecomm_list

Is the Right to Be Forgotten Global?

The Court of Justice of the European Union is hearing arguments on whether the right to be forgotten under EU law (notably based on the Spanish case from 2014 that started all this discussion) should be applied globally by search engines. Here is The Guardian’s report.

You will notice that the report closes with a mention of the Canadian Supreme Court decision (in Equustek, not named) where the court made its takedown order against Google globally. I did not think the SCC dealt well with the arguments being raised at the CJEU, namely that if France, or Canada, . . . [more]

Posted in: International issues, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

Devices Gone Wild III: Smart Home Devices Used for Harassment

The American Bar Journal reports that some people are harassing their spouses by remote manipulation of smart home devices, like thermostats, TVs and the like – turning the heat way up, or off, turning TVs or radios on and off, etc.

Is this a problem in Canada? Is there a reason that the spouse left in the home can’t just turn off the devices, or the central control device like Alexa?

Would restraining orders need to deal with this kind of ‘contact’ or abuse expressly? . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Would It Be Good to Get Rid of Cash?

The Guardian has an article about the number of businesses in the U.K. that are refusing to accept cash in payment, notably for food and drink, and services.

The article and the comments to it point out the difficulties such policies may cause for people who do not have or cannot get bank accounts – but also the benefit for the businesses, who do not have to keep or tally cash.

The comments in particular point out the privacy and control implications of having all one’s transactions recorded – and the data often sold – electronically.

Some other countries, notably . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Should Mandatory CLE Require Technology in Particular?

Some states in the US, notably now including North Carolina and Florida, require that part of one’s mandatory continuing legal education include education on techology. Florida’s rule requires three hours over three years – so an hour a year, but if one took a three-hour course (which might be a more useful format than three one-hour sessions), one could fulfill the duty. At least in NC, their annual requirement is 12 hours, same as in Ontario.

This is all in the context of the ABA’s Professional Conduct rules – adopted in many states – that expressly requires competence in matters . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law, ulc_ecomm_list

Do You Need to Know You Are Speaking With a Robot?

You will probably have heard that Google has developed a system by which a machine can make phone calls to humans, notably to make reservations for hotels and restaurants (and what more human an activity is there?) – and the machine, using AI, can sound remarkably human. Apparently we have here a device that passes the Turing test with flying colours.

Question: should it have to tell people it deals with that it is essentially a robot? A lot of people claim to be unhappy with the idea that they may deal with the machine and not know it’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

When Does a Technical Standard Become a Legal Standard of Care?

The Guardian reports us that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is close to adopting a new authentication standard that can replace passwords. This would be some kind of “who you are” (biometric) or “what you have” (token, phone to receive code) method of authentication, rather than a “what you know” password. (I suppose a code sent to your phone is what you know, but you know it only case by case, because you have another communications channel.)

Some web services already work this way, as the article notes – or does in special cases, as when one is logging . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list