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Archive for ‘Administration of Slaw’

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

Simon Fodden (1944 – 2018)

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that our beloved Slaw founder, Simon Fodden, passed away on February 10th, 2018. Simon had been fighting cancer for the past four years, and died surrounded by his family at the Kensington Hospice in Toronto.

Simon’s accomplishments were many. From the family’s eulogy, he was beautifully described as “law professor and associate dean of law, author, blogger, founder/publisher of slaw.ca, lifelong learner, eclectic collector of interests and curiosities, aesthete, fashion plate, craft beer lover, foodie, charming conversationalist, music lover, technofile, web designer and all-around early adopter of innovation. Online . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, The Friday Fillip

Videos With Fake Faces – What Legal Remedy?

Professor Eric Goldman of UC Santa Clara writes about new technology that allows adept editors to put someone’s face on a video of someone else. That can produce comic results, but it can also be a kind of revenge porn, or just nasty porn, if one puts a well-known face on a body doing pornographic things.

Prof. Goldman says it is hard to conceive of a legal remedy guaranteed to be effective for the person whose face is used. He discusses copyright and defamation and finds them limited.

He does not pay much attention to privacy, since U.S. privacy laws . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Student Access to the Exams They Have Written

The Court of Justice of the EU has held that the “examination script” i.e. the answers to examination questions, constitutes the personal information of the student, and therefore it must be made available to the student on request under access to information and privacy laws. (This is the Nowak case out of Ireland, for those of you who follow such things.)

Would the same result be obtained in any Canadian jurisdiction? One understands the argument that the answers are connected to the student – they have to be, in order to serve their primary purpose. The student’s marks would be . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, ulc_ecomm_list

Are Social Media Posts by Politicians Official Documents?

The US Department of Justice has declared that President Trump’s tweets are official statements of the President – at least in one case. In another, mentioned in the same ABA story, it is saying that they are not, at least to the point that the President can block people from his Twitter account.

What is your view? Are the posts subject to freedom of information laws and official records laws, so that they have to be preserved, they have to be accessible on request, they have to respect privacy rights?

There is a difference between politicians in government with official . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list