Todays Slaw post: The latest word is that Canada’s anti-spam legislation will be in force on July 1, 2014, with the software provisions coming into force in January 2015. The final regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette on December 18. More information about the law can be found in previous articles here. Proponents of the law feel that it is going to have a substantial effect on the fight against spam. But as I have said before, my personal view is that the legislation as drafted is ill-conceived and will be a compliance nightmare for businesses and charities. Stay tuned as we digest the regulations after they are published. http://harrisonpensa.com/lawyers/david-canton
Todays Slaw post
It will be no surprise to anyone that one of the reactions to the NSA/Snowden revelations would be attempts to evade spying. Many organizations have looked at their systems to determine where the vulnerable weak points are. For example, even if certain internet communications are encrypted, there may be points along the chain where it becomes unencrypted and vulnerable.
The EFF, for example, recently published a chart that shows what some providers are doing, and explains the best practices behind it.
For the London Free Press – November 25, 2013 – Read this at lfpress.com
We have all seen the “404 Not Found” or “Page does not exist” error response when we click on a broken Internet link. Though the Internet is a dynamic and constantly evolving medium for creating and sharing information, it can lack permanence.
“Link rot” describes hyperlinks that direct users to web pages or other sources that have since been moved or become permanently unavailable. This often occurs with news-related links where stories are moved around or deleted to make room for new ones.
The content you linked to may still exist but simply has a new address. Link rot can also occur when a website is reorganized or the domain has been changed without the creation of redirects.
Whether you’re an academic or amateur blogger, link rot undermines the professionalism, quality and relevance of your content. When citing information, you want to ensure the information you link to is accessible for future users. However web pages you’ve linked to can easily be changed, moved or deleted at any time making your content immediately less relevant because the information can’t be verified or the primary source can’t be referred to.
Link rot also poses an obstacle for those conducting research. When a link is dead or broken, it’s analogous to someone trying to perform research at a library but finding footnotes in the books have been ripped out.
Recognizing the problems caused by link rot, services such as Internet Archive and Google are archiving Internet documents by effectively taking snapshots of webpages for future access. However, these services are limited in that content chosen for archive is random and cannot be initiated by authors, editors or publishers seeking a specific reference.
Given the pervasive threat link rot poses to academics, a handful of “on-demand” archiving consortiums have surfaced that allow scholarly authors, editors and publishers to create links that “will never break.” This is achieved by submitting the URL to the service that then archives the material on the page as a user would view it on that same day and then sending a new URL that a future reader can click to be directed to both the original web source (that may have since changed) and the archived version.
One such service is Perma CC managed by universities, libraries and the Internet Archive.
Another is WebCite, a non-profit consortium supported by publishers, editors and donations. Since its launch in 1997, more than 200 academic journals have relied on Webcite to create “stable” links. WebCite is seeking crowdfunding on fundrazr.com to continue archiving new material past 2013.
Without archiving services, information online could easily be lost to future generations.
Today’s Slaw post:
Here in London I spent some time yesterday at Hacker Studios talking to some people with budding business ideas. In addition to legal mentoring, advice is available on topics including accounting, sales, business planning, marketing, and human resources.
There are several groups in London that support an entrepreneur culture. What do other communities do?
A portion of my practice deals with startups and small business in the tech sector. To be frank, some of the business plans and entrepreneurs are destined for failure for many reasons. But many have interesting and cutting edge ideas with great potential. Helping these entrepreneurs can put legal needs in perspective, as you have to focus on what they really need in practice, and when – rather than from a theoretical cover every legal risk approach.
Today’s Slaw post:
London’s Emerging Leaders organization just released survey results about attitudes of younger workers resulting from lack of employment opportunities. The unemployment rate amongst recent graduates is higher than the general unemployment rate, and I suspect many who are employed are under employed.
Are employers partly to blame for this? One of the problems cited by the Emerging Leaders executive director is the typical requirement of “3 to 5 years experience“. Employers surveyed ranked ambition and attitude ahead of qualifications as the top factor in hiring a candidate. But how would an employer ever know that a job candidate had ambition and the right attitude if they don’t interview a recent graduate because they don’t have 3 years experience? I also suspect employers only consider post-grad work as experience, when may current grads have a significant amount of quality volunteer experience while in school.
The Supreme Court of Canada will soon decide when police can look at one’s cell phone without a warrant.
Given the large amount of personal information that exists on our smartphones, this will be an important decision. A smartphone can be a window to personal information such as email, banking details, our location over time, personal photos, and even health information. Looking at a cell phone can be as invasive as searching our home.
In the case going to the Supreme Court, the accused, Mr. Fearon, was arrested on suspicion of his role in a robbery. At the time of his arrest, he had a cell phone, which did not have a password restricting access. .Incident to the arrest, the police looked through the contents of his phone finding messages and pictures incriminating him for the robbery. At trial, Mr. Fearon attempted to have the evidence deemed inadmissible, arguing that the police should have obtained a warrant to search his phone. The Court held that the evidence was admissible.
The Court reasoned that since the phone did not have a password, a cursory examination of its contents incidental to arrest was acceptable. The court stated that had access to the phone required a password, the police would need a warrant to go through the phone.
The court recognized “the highly personal and sensitive nature of the contents of a cell phone” and the fairly high expectation that such information would attract an expectation of privacy, but allowed the search nonetheless.
The Supreme Court will determine whether that principle should be upheld or replaced with something different.
Some may argue that the court did a good job balancing the privacy interests of individuals with the enforcement interests of the police. However others may think it is akin to saying that whether police can search one’s house depends on whether the door is locked.
The concept of a phone being locked may not be as straightforward as it seems, given ever changing technology.
For example the iPhone 5S has a finger print reader that can be used instead of a password to gain access to the phone.
A password is something contained in the mind of an individual, whereas a finger print is physical. It is easily obtained through a minor amount of force, by putting the phone to the user’s finger.
Other authentication processes are on the horizon, including some that unlock the phone when in close proximity to its owner. For example, the upcoming Nymi is a bracelet that senses the unique heart rhythm of its owner which effectively serves as a password to provide access to everything from phones to computers to doors. Other technology that would accomplish the same thing are electronic tattoos and authentication pills.
In a situation where an individual uses one of those authentication methods, their phone would appear to be unlocked, even though they intended to restrict access to their phone. Let’s hope the Supreme Court of Canada considers the technology in this light, rather than just a simple password.
A condensed version of this article appeared in my last Tech Watch column.
Todays Slaw post.
Every once in a while you come across a lawyer or other professional who has such a bad presence that you question whether they are real or competent. It is often because they do some basic image affecting things horribly wrong.
Here are a few things needed to leave a good impression, are often done wrong, and yet cost little or nothing to do right:
- Have a web site. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but needs to include basic info like what you do, where you are, and how to contact you. It also needs to look professional. Blog platforms like wordpress make this easy to do.
- Don’t use a generic email address ( [your name]@gmail.com, or [your name]@hotmail.com, …). Get a relevant domain name for your website and use it for your email address as well.
- Have a proper letterhead with your snail mail address, email address, and phone number. Yes, we still need letterhead, even if we only email letters as pdfs. Word processing platforms include templates that make this easy.
- Use a professional consistent email signature line. I don’t mean a long winded disclaimer of dubious effect – just basic name, contact info, and web site address.
- Create a LinkedIn profile.
- Word processors have built in spelling and grammar checkers. Use them.
Today’s Slaw Post:
I attended the Canadian IT Law Association annual conference last week. It is IMHO consistently the best continuing ed program for IT law. Some general conference observations:
- Pay attention to speakers even if they are covering topics you are familiar with. No matter how well you know the topic, something new / useful will come up.
- Conference materials in the cloud are the way to go. Much more convenient than on physical media.
- Hotel / conference centre AV equipment won’t always display your presentation the same as on your work computer, especially if it includes animation or video. It’s a good idea to bring the presentation and any separate video files on a jumpdrive, and test it out before the session just in case it needs to be tweaked.
- Conference room wifi can be mystifying and inconsistent. Why bother password protecting wifi on conference floors?
- Hotel room wifi may require a leap of faith and an ad hoc legal analysis (promissory estoppel, ostensible authority, parol evidence rule, burden of proof…) when you are told at the check-in counter “Just accept the agreement to pay [insert outrageous daily rate here] for wifi in your room – we won’t actually charge you for it.”
Today’s Slaw post
Lawyers tend to think of time in units of .1 hour.
But that is eons compared to some other time measurements.
If you are having trouble getting your head around the concept and speed of quantum computing that Simon wrote about yesterday, consider time metrics for tech we currently have.
Peter Higgs and Francois Englert recently won the Nobel Prize for physics for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form stars and planets. The actual existence of the Higgs boson was confirmed at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland – a significant achievement on many levels, including the fact that the Higgs boson only has a life in the accelerator of about 1.6×10^−22 or 0.00000000000000000000016 seconds.
Even everyday electronics work in amazingly small increments of time.
Current computer chips run at speeds of up to about 4 Ghz, meaning that they perform 4×10^9 or 4000000000 processing cycles per second – and that’s for each of the multiple cores they have.
GPS relies on satellites keeping time to an accuracy of about 14 nanoseconds or 1.4×10^-8 or 0.000000014 seconds. To put that in perspective, light travels about one foot in a nanosecond.
For the London Free Press – October 21, 2013 – Read this at LFPress.com
The name you choose for your business or your products is an important and lasting decision that can be critical to the overall identity and image of your business.
But coming up with a good business, brand, or product name is not always easy. Too often people have a name in mind that they are invested in either financially or emotionally, but the name is not wise from a legal perspective. It is best to get legal advice and do some searching.
A good brand or trademark is memorable, not descriptive. Think of “Apple” or “Ford”, for example. It is not uncommon for businesses to think of names that describe their products or services, which is a mistake. That does not help to set the product apart from the competition. Indeed, the trademarks act does not allow the registration of a trademark that is clearly descriptive of the product or its place of origin. For example, if you open an ice-cream store, you can’t protect the name “Cold Ice Cream”.
To obtain a corporate name, one only has to do a search of Canadian business names. But if a business wants to have an international or online presence, it is a good idea to search beyond the legal minimum. At the very least do a Google search, and a trademark registry search in countries where customers may be.
Also look at what domain names are available. Most businesses should have a web presence. While a domain name does not have to be the exact business or product name, it should be something intuitive for customers to try. And you don’t want your exact business name to be taken by a competitor, or be used in some way that might embarrass you.
It doesn’t hurt to see if the desired name is available as social media IDs. Similar to a domain name, a business’s Twitter or Facebook name does not have to be its exact name, but there should be a logical connection. You do not want your exact name to already be in use by a competitor.
Once you find a business or product name that works, it is worthwhile taking steps to protect it. Obtain domain names and social media ID’s immediately, even if you may not intend to use them right away. They are cheap and easy to get.
Also consider whether it is worthwhile registering the business or product name as a trademark in Canada, or other countries. If the name is an important marketing asset, it is worth the modest cost to register it as a trademark. While trademarks can be registered at any time, the risk in delaying is that someone else might register it first. While it may be possible to wrestle it back depending on the circumstances, it is far easier and cheaper to simply do it first.