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Archive for ‘Technology’

Crossing the Border With Your Devices — as a Lawyer

I’ve been kindly invited to be a regular/irregular contributor to Slaw, and I’m delighted to take them up on this offer.

Even before the change in government in the United States, I’m often asked — by other lawyers, the media and other folks — about whether you can be required to surrender your electronic devices and passcodes to unlock them on demand by border agents. This question has become a bit more acute as the media is increasingly reporting about individuals being not only required to surrender their devices and their passcodes, but also their social media credentials to border . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

Researchers Play Along With “Tech Support” Scam Calls

Have you ever been tempted to play along with scammers that phone just to see where it goes and to give them some grief? Researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook did that and more.

They sought out scammers who claim to be from Microsoft or some sort of official tech support, and followed it through to see what happened. They set up virtual machines that looked like normal PC’s to the scammers who remote on, and let the scam play out.

This Wired article has more detail, including the paper that the researchers wrote, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

What if Your Personal Digital Assistant Defames Somebody?

We recently had a discussion about police access to the recordings made by in-home digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and its (her?) ilk.

Now our focus turns to the actions of these devices if they do bad things themselves. This story reports that Siri, Apple’s version, routinely answered requests in Toronto for prostitutes by referring the inquired to an “eSports bar” – one where clients play electronic sports games. Apparently the word may be too close to “escorts” for Siri’s sense of discrimination. It is clear – take it as established for the present discussion – that the bar is . . . [more]

Posted in: International issues, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

EFF Publishes New Guide to Mitigating Digital Privacy Risks at US Border

If you care about solicitor-client privilege, travel to the US and use computing technology, then read this:

By its own admission, US border protection conducted five-times as many electronic media searches in a single year—4,764 in 2015 to 23,877 in 2016.

Yup. That’s 500% more cause for anyone travelling to the US to be concerned. Should Canadian lawyers be cautious too? Yes.

America’s digital rights sentinel, Electronic Frontier Foundation, just released its 2017 reboot to its guide for mitigating risks to digital privacy when travelling to the US. The newly minted guide (last revised in 2011) is titled “Digital . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Technology: Office Technology

Can Algorithms Help the Courts?

Algorithms are behind the most sophisticated kidney exchange programs in the world. In Canada, the Canadian Blood Services has built a national Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry. The Registry helps incompatible living donors receive a kidney transplant.

Pairs are matched by comparing the medical information from all pairs in the database and by identifying pairs that might be able to exchange donors. The Registry may also identify a series of pairs that could exchange kidneys in a chain like fashion. For example, your mother is willing to donate a kidney to you but you are incompatible with her. But another  . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

LSUC Finally Fights Back Around Legal Advertising

Legal marketing has begun to run amok in many major cities in Canada.

I raised attention to this nearly 2 years ago in National Magazine, and since then the mainstream media has picked up on it as well. In particular, the Toronto Star has run a series of articles, focusing primarily on the personal injury bar. There were apparently 604 complaints about licensee advertising in Ontario between 2011-2015, over half of which were initiated by the Law Society of Upper Canada itself.

In response to this, Convocation last Friday introduced a number of changes. The first was to implement . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Marketing, Technology: Internet

Machines Regulating Humans: The Q&A

This is a follow up to my previous post on Benjamin Alarie’s talk about the potential of using machine learning to regulate human activity. The presentation was followed by a great question and answer period and I thought I’d share my notes with you.

Q. When you say you are achieving 90% accuracy in evaluating tests like whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, what are you using determine that the outcome is correct?

Alarie: use what the courts say to check whether the algorithm is right; train the algorithm using 70% of the data then use . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Trump Administration to Roll Back Net Neutrality

In 2015 the US FCC took steps to prevent ISPs from discriminating against internet traffic. This is called Net Neutrality, which Wikipedia describes as “…the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”

The gist of the concept is that the owner of the pipes shouldn’t be able to favour the delivery of its own content over content provided by others.

At the risk of oversimplifying this, net neutrality is . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

The Bespoke Model Is Broken

The time honoured, hand tailored approach to cases favoured by lawyers over the centuries is restrictive. By forcing lawyers to deal with only one matter a time, legal services can only be immensely profitable if lawyers either bill a high hourly rate and/or deal with a high volume of cases.

Before computers and the internet, the hand tailored approach was the only means of providing services. But now with automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet, we are no longer limited to the bespoke model. In the public’s interest, we need to rethink legal services and get creative. For example:

  1. We 
. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology

No Access to Remote Justice in L’Orignal, Ontario?

Recently we took on two Small Claims Court actions for good clients. In both cases we acted for the plaintiff.

Anyone who has commenced a Small Claims Court proceeding knows that the Small Claims Court Rules provide that the plaintiff is generally required to commence the action in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives or carries on business. In both cases our client operated from Toronto. In both cases, we had to commence the action in L’Orignal, Ontario as a result of that being where the defendant carried on business.

For those of you who don’t know, L’Orignal is about . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

Reduce the Distraction From the ‘Casino in Your Pocket’

This article is by Tim Lemieux, Claims Prevention & Stakeholder Relations Coordinator at LAWPRO.

In the early days of email, one of the common bits of productivity advice was “turn off your inbox notifications.” The “You’ve Got Mail” sound or pop-up was a constant source of distraction while trying to get work done. Even with the advent of smartphones that advice was still mostly good enough. The phone meant you could check email everywhere you went, but the distraction was still limited to emails and texts from friends and clients. Jump forward to 2017, and we’re all carrying around what . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended, Technology: Internet

Machines Regulating Humans: Will Algorithms Become Law?

Benjamin Alarie, Osler Chair in Business Law at the University of Toronto and CEO of Blue J Legal, gave a lunch time presentation at Osgoode Hall Law School last Tuesday. This session was based on the paper “Regulation by Machine” co-written with Anthony Niblett and Albert Yoon delivered at the 30th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2016), Barcelona, Spain. [3]

The paper looks at how the process of machine learning could be used to improve the regulation of human activity. This idea is contrary to the usual and “preoccupied” view that legal scholars have . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology