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Archive for ‘ulc_ecomm_list’

Evidence of Official Documents Online: A Problem?

Governments increasingly are putting official documents online without any paper ‘original’ or equivalent. Does that present challenges in practice for proving those documents?

What is your experience producing in court or generally under the evidence statutes official government documents that appear only online?

There is good statutory support for producing documents ‘printed’ by government, sometimes by class of document but sometimes as broad as ‘other public document’.

Will courts accept a printout of a web page (or, I suppose, a live in-court online presentation of a web page) showing a government URL as being ‘published by the Queen’s Printer’, at . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

Search Engine Results as Evidence

Can you / should you / do you rely on the product of search engines as evidence in civil or criminal matters? Do you base legal advice on what you find on search engines, or on the use made of them?

A recent article in Canadian Lawyer canvasses some of the possibilities.

The Ontario Superior Court held that one could not establish facts by showing how often certain terms were used in Google searches. That was for the purpose of the certification of a class action.

However, showing previous use or actual use of trade marks can be done . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Non-Disparagement Clauses

California has just enacted a law that prohibits ‘non-disparagement clauses’. These are clauses in consumer contracts that prohibit the consumer from criticising the product or services provided under the contract.

Specifically, the statute says this: “a contract or proposed contract for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services may not include a provision waiving the consumer’s right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services.”

Is there any need for such a provision in Canadian law (federal or provincial)? Are non-disparagement clauses ever seen here? Would . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, ulc_ecomm_list

Internet Jurisdiction and the Microsoft Warrants

According to a news report, “Earlier this week 28 technology and media companies, 23 trade associations and advocacy groups and 35 professors of computer science filed legal papers in support of Microsoft’s opposition to US court rulings earlier this year which said that US authorities’ search warrant powers apply to customer information held outside of the US.”

I have had difficulty understanding the legal basis for Microsoft’s objection. Is it not clear that either law enforcement authorities or civil courts can require the production of documents in the custody or control of an enterprise that is located in their . . . [more]

Posted in: International issues, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

Electronic Signatures: Soulless and Unreliable?

As an aside to the discussion of a possible regulation on e-signatures in Ontario, I refer you to a recent article on the psychology of electronic signatures:“Paperless and Soulless: E-signatures Diminish the Signer’s Presence and Decrease Acceptance.”

It turns out that people don’t think that other people who sign electronically are as ‘engaged’ as they are if they sign by handwritten signature. As a result, they don’t think the e-signers are as likely to comply with obligations that they sign up for, and they don’t take e-signed documents as seriously as hand-signed ones or as likely to be . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Should the Rules of Professional Conduct Require Competence in Technology?

The recent revisions to Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct do not contain the words ‘computer’, ‘information technology’, or ‘electronic’, except in the latter case for a reference to the electronic registration of real estate transfers.

Is this a desirable demonstration of technology neutrality or a missed opportunity to give useful direction to the profession on an increasingly important aspect of the practice of law?

Monica Goyal, who makes her living in the law-and-technology world, suggests in her recent column for the Law Times that the rules should give some guidance.

Do you agree?

If not, have you read the long . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology: Office Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Ontario Consults on a Potential E-Signature Regulation for Real Estate

The Ontario government is consulting on whether to make a regulation under the Electronic Commerce Act to govern electronic signatures to be used on agreements of purchase and sale of real estate.

Draft Regulation

1. For the purpose of subsection 11(4) of the Act, the following class of documents is prescribed: agreements of purchase and sale of land in Ontario.

2. A legal requirement that a document of the prescribed class be signed is satisfied by an electronic signature only if the method of signature used:

a. Is reliable for the purpose of identifying the person who signs;

b. Ensures . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

International Standard for Treating Personal Information in the Cloud

The International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have adopted a new international standard for the protection of personally identifiable information by public cloud computer service providers.

It is intended to set out best practices for companies operating in this area, such as Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine.

Here is a description of the standard by a privacy advice site.

Is this likely to be helpful to your clients, either those having their information stored and treated in the cloud or those who offer cloud services? Will it influence your contracts?

In particular, will it . . . [more]

Posted in: International issues, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

Employers Requiring Disclaimers in Employees’ Social Media Posts

In the USA, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) oversees not just unionized workplaces but many others too. Among the issues attracting its attention these days are social media policies of employers. As one might expect, the NLRB protects free speech by employees, especially where employee rights and relations with employers are concerned.

However, the Board has recently confirmed that employers may require employees to disclaim speaking for the employer on the employees’ social media sites. The risk that employers could get in trouble for ideas otherwise imputable to them was considered a valid reason for such disclaimers. However, disclaimers . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, ulc_ecomm_list

Online Dispute Resolution at UNCITRAL – Some Creativity Needed

The UNCITRAL Working Group on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) meets next month in Vienna to continue discussion of model rules for international ODR. Here are the working documents for the meeting, and past meetings. .

The perspective of the project since its inception in 2010 has been to find a way to resolve high-volume, low-value disputes – not necessarily just consumer disputes, but many would be of this kind.

One of the problems has been to figure out a way to get both buyers and sellers into the ODR system, whatever it is (and there might be many such . . . [more]

Posted in: International issues, Justice Issues, ulc_ecomm_list

Facebook ‘likes’ as Protected Speech (More)

You will probably recall the litigation in the US a couple of years back about whether someone’s ‘like’ on a Facebook page was constitutionally protected ‘speech’.

An employee of a municipal sheriff had Liked the page of a candidate running against the incumbent sheriff. When the incumbent was re-elected, he fired the employee. The court of first instance held that the Like was not political expression and not protected against retaliation. On appeal, that decision was reversed – the Like was political speech – but the firing was upheld for other reasons.

The US National Labour Relations Board has recently . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

E-Filing Comes to Ontario (Gradually)

The Ministry of the Attorney General has announced an electronic filing system for the Ontario Small Claims Court. For the moment, the system is active in only a few court locations, but the Ministry intends to have it working province-wide by early 2015. In addition, the system works for statements of claim and notices of default, but not for statements of defence or settlement conference documents.

A fuller description is here.

What do you think? Does this look like a workable operation, as far as it goes? Is it the basis for a complete e-filing system (i.e. including defence . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list