Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘ulc_ecomm_list’

Is a Typed Name on an Email a Valid Signature?

Both Canadian law and American law, through their uniform e-transactions statutes, give a wide definition to ‘electronic signature’ – being essentially any information in electronic form in or associated with a document with an intention to sign the document.

The ‘intention to sign’ requirement aimed to ensure that the same mental element was required for an e-signature as for a handwritten signature.

A recent California Court of Appeal case, J.B.B. Investment Partners v Fair, held that a person who typed his name at the bottom of an email saying ‘ I agree’ to settlement agreement sent to him by . . . [more]

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

Ontario Looks at ODR for Some Provincial Offences

The Ministry of the Attorney General is considering an online dispute resolution (ODR) system for dealing with some provincial offences, mainly traffic offences to start.

The system would rely on administrative monetary penalties rather than judicially-imposed fines. The consultation document talks about how someone with a ticket could challenge it online, as well as finding out more about how the process works.

Here is a useful table showing the major changes.

Feel free to participate in the consultation, or to say what you think of it here, or both. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

Do We Need to Legislate Against Revenge Porn?

The UK has just passed a law to criminalize revenge porn (see ss 33 – 35). A fair amount of discussion clearly went into the drafting, considering the qualifications and the language. The law prohibits the publication or distribution of a ‘private sexual photograph or film’ without the consent of the subject and with the intention to cause the subject distress. There are fairly subtle definitions of the images, a broad definition of distribution (online or offline), and a requirement that the intention be specific, not just inferred as a reasonable consequence of publication or distribution.

This article describes the . . . [more]

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

Does Including a Forwarding Feature to Defamation Amount to Republication?

The Supreme Court of Canada in Crookes v Newton held that the mere linking to a web site that contained defamatory material did not make the linker liable for defamation. Adding content to the link might change that result.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has recently held, however, that offering a link to an email program (e.g. ‘mailto:’) on a web page that contains defamatory material constitutes republication of that material, apparently whether or not anyone used it.

Weaver v Corcoran 2015 BCSC 165 (CanLII)

Here is the main passage on that point:

[261] The invitation to email the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, ulc_ecomm_list

A Constitutional Right to Technology?

A column in the Canadian Lawyer suggests that “technology in a modern advanced society such as the one in which we live, should be recognized as a constitutionally protected right to ‘life, liberty and security of the person,’ under s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

Does this suggestion appeal to you? What do you suppose it means in practice?

A bit later on, the columnist suggests he is talking about “access to at least the most basic and rudimentary elements of technology, and arguably, reasonable levels of technology”.

So: the right is access to technology – but . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Can Better Data Security Be Encouraged by Civil Liability?

Some people – notably information security expert Bruce Schneier – believe that if IT suppliers, notably software providers, were civilly liable for the harm caused by buggy products, they would have an incentive to be more careful. The market currently encourages the industry to put products on sale as early as possible, and with the most hype possible, whether testing has been adequate or security threats thoroughly checked.

Here is an overview of Schneier’s position. A classic statement of the issues with software is here.

Would they be more careful – and would we then all be better . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation, 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