Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Report on Televising U.S. Supreme Court and Other Federal Court Proceedings

The Federation of American Scientists has made available on its website a report by the Congressional Research Service entitled Televising Supreme Court and Other Federal Court Proceedings: Legislation and Issues (updated November 8, 2006).

"The Supreme Court has never allowed live electronic media coverage of its proceedings, but the Court posts opinions and transcripts of oral arguments on its website. The public has access to audiotapes of the oral arguments and opinions that the Court gives to the National Archives and Records Administration. Currently, Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits the photographing or broadcasting of judicial proceedings in criminal cases in federal courts. The Judicial Conference of the United States prohibits the televising, recording, and broadcasting of district trial (civil and criminal) court proceedings. Under conference policy, each court of appeals may permit television and other electronic media coverage of its proceedings. Only two of the 13 courts of appeals, the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals, have chosen to do so. Although legislation to allow camera coverage of the Supreme Court and other federal court proceedings has been introduced in the current and previous Congresses, none has been enacted."

(...)

"This report also discusses the arguments that have been presented by proponents and opponents of electronic media coverage of federal court proceedings, including the possible effect on judicial proceedings, separation of powers concerns, the purported educational value of such coverage, and possible security and privacy concerns. Finally, the report discuses the various options Congress may address as it considers legislation, including which courts should be covered, whether media coverage should be authorized or required, possible security and privacy safeguards, and the type of media coverage that would be permitted."
Earlier Library Boy posts on TV cameras in courtrooms include:
  • Report on TV Cameras in Ontario Courtrooms (August 24, 2006): "A report released today by Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant recommends that cameras be allowed in some courts in the province. This would include TV cameras. The list of Courts would cover the Ontario Court of Appeal and lower courts where no witnesses would be examined."
  • UK Courts to Accept TV Cameras (November 14, 2006): "Proposals that could lead to television cameras being installed in courts could soon be set out by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, head of the judiciary.... (U)nder relaxed rules, court proceedings that could be televised include: appeals; civil proceedings — opening and closing arguments, judge’s ruling; Crown Court trials— opening speeches, closing speeches, judges’ summing up, passing of sentence; appeals in family cases but not those involving children. A consultation paper should be ready by Christmas."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations

The New York University Journal of International Law and Politics has made its Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citation available on the Internet. (close to 300 pages in PDF format).

OK, not exactly bedtime reading but it "provides persons intending to submit legal materials to a foreign jurisdiction or international forum the ability to cite such materials according to the jurisdiction’s or forum’s own standards. Second, and perhaps more usefully, the Guide will allow persons unfamiliar with foreign and international citation standards (but wanting to study or apply foreign or international legal material or using such standards in their own work) the ability to understand and interpret the import of such standards in that jurisdiction’s or forum’s own terms. With this comes the ability, for example, to understand basic information like the type and hierarchy of the court which renders a particular decision or the type of code a law comes from. Third, on a more prudential level, with this information, scholars, judges, and practicing lawyers faced with such standards will be able to more easily identify and locate the source from the source jurisdiction according to its own, more familiar citation norms."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:13 pm 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Use of Electronic Surveillance in Canada

The most recent issue (November 24, 2006) of the Canadian government's Weekly Checklist features the 2005 annual report on electronic surveillance from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.

The report outlines the use of electronic surveillance of private communications by law enforcement agencies to assist in criminal investigations. Under the Criminal Code, agencies must obtain judicial authorization before conducting the surveillance.

The government is required to prepare and present to Parliament an annual report on the use of electronic surveillance.

The 2005 Annual Report covers a five-year period from 2001 to 2005. The Report includes new statistics for the period of January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2005, and updates the figures for the years 2001 to 2004.

Statistics are provided for things such as the number of applications made for authorizations and for renewals of authorizations, the period for which authorizations and renewals were granted, a description of the methods of interception, the offences specified in authorizations (e.g. possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking, smuggling/attempt to smuggle goods into Canada, laundering proceeds of excise offences, forgery of passport, weapons trafficking, murder, fraud, countefeiting, participating in activities of a criminal organization, etc.), the number of arrests as a result of an interception under an authorization.

The Weekly Checklist includes a listing of book and serial titles which have been released during the week by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Suspect Nation Video on Rise of the Surveillance Society

A documentary on widespread surveillance in the US and the UK by Henry Porter of the British paper The Observer has been posted to Google Video.

Entitled Suspect Nation, it explores the potential misuse of the mountains of data collected about each of us through a proliferating number of technologies

From the Google Video website:
"Since Tony Blair's New Labour government came to power in 1997, the UK civil liberties landscape has changed dramatically... The right to remain silent is no longer universal. Our right to privacy, free from interception of communications has been severely curtailed. The ability to travel without surveillance (or those details of our journeys being retained) has disappeared. "

"Indeed, as Henry Porter (the Observer journalist famous for his recent email clash with Tony Blair over the paring down of civil liberties) reveals in this unsettling film, our movements are being watched, and recorded, more than ever before."
Earlier Library Boy posts about surveillance include:
  • UK Fast Becoming Surveillance Society Says Info Commissioner (November 2, 2006): "Richard Thomas, the United Kingdom Information Commissioner, stated in a report released today that his country is sleep-walking into a surveillance society. This is due to the increasing accumulation of credit card, cell phone and loyalty card information, the monitoring of workers' computer activities, and the spread of closed circuit television surveillance. There are now 4.2 million closed circuit cameras in Britain and Britons are picked up 300 times a day on camera as they go about their regular private business."
  • International Surveillance and Privacy Survey from Queen's University (November 15, 2006): "Earlier this week, Queen's University researchers released the results of a survey of 9,000 people around the world about their experiences with surveillance and privacy: 'This is believed to be the first cross-cultural study of its kind that explores relationships between attitudes and experiences, and how much people trust corporations and governments to handle personal information, including the sharing of such information with third parties, the researcher says... the survey included nearly 50 questions on participant’s attitudes about issues like consumer surveillance, racial profiling at airports, national ID cards, media coverage of surveillance issues, workplace privacy, knowledge of privacy regulations, control over personal data and public trust in government'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 27, 2006

LibWorm - New Search Tool for the Biblioblogosphere

A new tool for searching through the world of library blogs has appeared in beta version: LibWorm that claims to aggregate content from 1400 RSS feeds.

Some interesting features include:
  • search results can themselves be output as an RSS feed
  • there are pre-defined "feed categories", which are sites grouped together by the creators and to which one can subscribe (example: law libraries)
  • there are also pre-defined "feed subjects", essentially saved searches (example: podcasting)
More from medical librarian David Rothman, the co-creator of LibWorm, Meredith Farkas from Information Wants To Be Free, and from Stephen Abram, SirsiDynix VP of Innovation.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadians' Use of Crime Prevention Measures

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics released its study on Canadians' Use of Crime Prevention Measures that seeks to "examine the various crime prevention measures employed by Canadians to protect themselves and their property from crime."

Respondents to the Statistics Canada 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization were asked what crime prevention measures they have adopted. Measures were divided into two broad categories:

"Lifetime protective measures:
The GSS asked respondents if they had ever, in their lifetime, done any of the following things to protect themselves or their property from crime: changed their routine, activities or avoided certain places; installed new locks or security bars; installed burglar alarms or motion detector lights; taken a self-defence course; changed their phone number; obtained a dog; obtained a gun; or changed residence or moved. "

"Routine precautionary measures:
The survey also asked respondents if they routinely did any of the following things to make themselves safer from crime: carry something to defend themselves or to alert other people; lock the car doors for their personal safety when alone in the car; when alone and returning to a parked car, check the back seat for intruders before getting into the car; plan their route with safety in mind; or stay at home at night because they are afraid to go out alone."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Another Library Pioneer Passes Away - Founder of Lexis

The Law Librarian Blog posted today about the death on November 12 of H. Donald Wilson, the first president of Mead Data Central, the developer of what became LexisNexis.

The post provides links to obituaries in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Post article mentions that Wilson "died of a heart attack ... in front of his computer".

Earlier Library Boy posts on "library pioneers" include:
  • The "Patron Saints" of Our Profession (August 2, 2006): "The founder of OCLC, Frederick G. Kilgour, died Monday, age 92. We don’t often celebrate the 'patron saints' of our profession, the people who laid the intellectual foundations of what we do everyday. Panizzi, Dewey, Cutter, Lubetzky, Ranganathan, Garfield, Vannevar Bush, Vincent Cerf. And Kilgour. When you stop to think of it, we would be drowning in one huge mess had it not been for our predecessors who came up with the rules for cataloguing, the field of citation analysis, the logic of hypertext or the structure for OCLC."
  • Online Tribute to OCLC Founder and Library Pioneer Frederick Kilgour (October 23, 2006): "Next Tuesday, October 31, 2006, there will be a tribute to Frederick G. Kilgour, the librarian who founded OCLC in 1967. Kilgour, a pioneer of library automation and the creator of the planet's largest online catalogue Worldcat, died this summer."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reverse Onus for Gun Crimes

The federal government's proposed new gun crimes legislation would put the burden on serious gun crimes suspects seeking bail to show cause why they should not stay in custody. This is known as "reverse onus".

Usually, it is the other way around, with Crown prosecutors having the burden to show why bail should not be granted.

The Library of Parliament's LEGISInfo service links to the text of the bill, Hansard debates, ministerial backgrounder information and further readings.

Coverage by CTV News provides access to text and video on the announcement.

Last month, federal Justice Minister Vic Toews introduced legislation that would reverse the onus in the case of repeat violent offenders.

In an earlier Library Boy post from January 4, 2006 entitled Reverse Onus in Gun-Related Bail Hearings, I wrote:

"There are already a number of offences enumerated under section 515(6) of the Criminal Code that place the onus on the accused to justify bail. The section lists offences, such as commiting a crime while on bail, as part of a criminal organization, terrorism-related offences, narcotics-related offences, etc."

(...)

"On January 2, the Globe and Mail, in an article entitled 'Targeting gun offences presents legal quagmire', quoted various legal experts as saying it is a "total crap shoot" whether reverse onus would survive a constitutional challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

(...)

"Also yesterday, the Toronto Star article 'Lawyers doubt tougher bail rules' included comments from criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby: " '(R)everse onuses don't generally make a lot of difference' because judges tend to take into account the circumstances of the alleged offence and the accused. 'It sounds good, which makes for good politics, but it doesn't make much difference' " (...)"
More on reverse onus and bail conditions can be found on the Canadian Charter of Rights Decisions Digest website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Binational Canada-USA Government Report on Phishing

On Wednesday of last week, the U.S. Justice Department and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) jointly released a report on phishing.

The report was written by the Binational Working Group on Cross-Border Mass Marketing Fraud.

"[Phishing is a] general term for the creation and use by criminals of e-mails and websites that have been designed to look like they come from well-known, legitimate and trusted businesses, financial institutions and government agencies. These criminals deceive Internet users into disclosing their bank and financial information or other personal data such as usernames and passwords."

"Phishing continues to be one of the rapidly growing classes of identity theft scams on the Internet that is causing both short-term losses and long-term economic damage. In May of 2006, over 20,000 individual phishing complaints were reported, representing an increase of over 34% from the previous year. Recent data suggests that criminals are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to their e-mails, resulting in an increasing number of consumers who have suffered credit card fraud, identity fraud, and financial loss. Estimated losses from phishing attacks are now in the billions of dollars worldwide, and those losses are growing."
The Binational Working Group published an earlier report in 2004 on identity theft. PSEPC has more about phishing on its website.

Earlier Library Boy posts about phishing and identity theft include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Library 2.0 for Special Librarians

Last Thursday night, the Toronto chapter of SLA (Special Libraries Association) organized an event called Library 2.0 in Action: How Special Librarians are actually using the latest tech tools:

"Blogs, RSS Feeds, RSS Readers, Podcasts, Wikis and more...Hear how your colleagues are using the latest information tools in their special library settings. Learn some tips and tricks for dealing with firewall issues and budget constraints, etc."
The conference material is presented in the form of a wiki, with sections on the panelists and what they doing in their libraries, as well as a list of resources including upcoming courses and conferences and webcasts from The Education Institute (the continuing education arm of Canada's national network of provincial and territorial library associations).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tabling of the 2005-2006 Departmental Performance Reports

Earlier this week, Treasury Board President John Baird tabled in Parliament the 2005-2006 departmental performance reports for 88 federal departments and agencies.

The report for the Supreme Court of Canada is among the list.

Every year, federal departments and agencies publish Reports on Plans and Priorities outlining their strategic goals. At the end of the fiscal year, Departmental Performance Reports look back on actual accomplishments and expenditures, to assess how well the agencies performed as measured against the objectives that were set out in the Report on Plans and Priorities.

This is all part of the so-called Estimates process that begins with the annual federal budget each spring. Based on the budget, the Government then develops its Estimates.

Estimates come in three parts.

Part I, the Government Expense Plan, provides an overview of federal spending.

Part II, the Main Estimates, identifies the spending authorities (votes) and amounts to be included in the appropriation bills. Parliament will be asked to approve these votes to enable the government to proceed with its spending plans for the coming year.

Part III is composed of two parts – Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports.

Earlier Library Boy posts about government accountability resources include:
  • Tabling of the 2004-2005 Government of Canada Departmental Performance Reports (October 31, 2005): "Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board of Canada, tabled the 2004-05 Departmental Performance Reports (or DPRs) for 90 Government of Canada departments and agencies in the House of Commons today."
  • Government Accountability Resources (August 28, 2006): "In yesterday's post Government of Canada Information Management Conference I wrote that one of the presentations at the upcoming IM - Taking Care of Business conference in Ottawa on October 2-3, 2006 would be about the experience of the United States Government Accountability Office or GAO. The GAO is in charge of independently auditing all U.S. federal government agencies. That got me thinking about the kinds of performance and accountability reporting requirements different governments have."
  • Canadian Government Audit and Evaluation Reports (September 5, 2006): "(...)Treasury Board Secretariat maintains an Audit and Evaluation Database that includes departmental and government performance reports as well as other audits of government activities. 'Several hundred records of findings are added to the database each year, including information from evaluations, audits, manager-led reviews, self- assessments and continuous performance measurement systems. This information is always being updated'."
  • List of All Federal Reports To Parliament (September 21, 2006): "In a few earlier Library Boy posts, I described some of the reports that examine, audit and help control the operations of the Canadian government: (...) The parliamentary website features the complete List of Reports and Returns that government departments must table in the House of Commons."
  • Federal Reports on Plans and Priorities Tabled in House of Commons (September 26, 2006): "The Honourable John Baird, President of the Treasury Board, today tabled the 2006-2007 Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPP) in the House of Commons. These documents contain details on projects and expenditure plans for dozens of federal government departments and agencies."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Canadian Law Librarian Salary Survey

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) has published its 2006 Compensation Survey on the CALL website.

This survey was principally edited by Gary H. Pon, law librarian at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on Baffin Island.

161 or 46.4% of eligible CALL members responded to a detailed online survey from August 8 to September 18, 2006.

Among the major findings:
  • those earning more than $70,000 jumped to 41.6% (33.3% in the last survey in 2003)
  • library directors’ or managers’ salaries average $83,750
  • librarian managers and librarians who are themselves supervised by professionals average $63,500 to $63,929
  • librarians with no supervisory responsibilities average $56,667
  • law librarians working in academic librarians had higher average salaries ($83,333) than their counterparts in other library types: librarians working in government ($70,568), law society ($68,235), law firms ($64,243), courthouse libraries ($55,000)
  • years of experience made a huge difference
  • the gender gap remains

All figures are of course in Canadian dollars.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

RSS Feeds from United Nations Agencies

UN Pulse, a blog created by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York, has compiled a list of RSS feeds from various UN bodies and specialized agencies.

There are feeds from a wide variety of sources:
  • Food and Agriculture Organization
  • International Atomic Energy Agency
  • International Labour Organization
  • Integrated Regional Information Networks (UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  • Relief Web (also UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • UNICEF
  • UN Population Fund
  • World Bank
  • World Food Programme
  • World Intellectual Property Organization
  • World Tourism Organization

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Blawg-Finding Tools

Colleagues and other people sometimes ask me how to locate law-related blogs.

Well, the Law Dawg Blawg, created by law librarians at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, describes New Tools for Finding Blawgs in a post from November 18, 2006.

The post describes 2 finding aids: the refurbished blawg.com site (I referred to it yesterday in my post entitled Law Library Blogs One of the Largest Blawg Categories) and the search engine BlawgSearch.

There are of course a number of other great sources:
  • Dave Matthews in Vancouver keeps on updating his Canadian Law Blogs List
  • The Taxonomy of Legal Blogs on the 3L Epiphany blog is another great source
  • The Observatory of the Legal Blogosphere is a site from Portugal that links to law-related blogs in a variety of languages and from many differents countries
  • The Lawfinder blogs list can help locate UK-based blawgs
  • Juriblogs is a directory of French-language blawgs
  • There is another directory for French blawgs from many different regions of the world - Blogs juridiques - on Droit francophone, the international law portal created by the Francophonie in colloboration with the Université de Montréal's LexUM service (a major CanLII partner)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:16 pm 2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Law Library Blogs One of the Largest Blawg Categories

The blawg.com site reports that blogs maintained by law libraries are one of the largest categories in its directory.

Bill Gratsch, author of the site, comments:

"(...) just in reading through the postings from this group, it is readily apparent that they are offering a valuable service to the legal community at large. Both in pointers to new research resources and in general legal news and updates. For example, attorneys could clearly benefit from subscribing to the content from their local law school's or bar association's library blawg. These research professionals are often well-versed in recent legal developments in the state or city where the library is located. Just tapping into these daily updates for information of import to the local Bar could be a valuable time saver."

3L Epiphany has compiled another shorter list of Law Library and Librarian Blogs.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 20, 2006

Legacy of R. v. Oakes - Proportionality Analysis under the Canadian Charter's Section 1

In its most recent issue, Canadian Law Abstracts, one of the collections offered by the Social Science Research Network, features an article by University of Toronto law professor Sujit Choudhry on how courts decide what are justifiable limits on rights defined under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Entitled So What is the Real Legacy of Oakes? Two Decades of Proportionality Analysis under the Canadian Charter's Section 1, it was published in the Supreme Court Law Review, Vol. 34, (2d), 2006.

From the abstract:

"R. v. Oakes is widely regarded as one of the most important judgments interpreting Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In addition to laying down its famous proportionality test to assess the reasonableness of limits on Charter rights, it clarified the Supreme Court of Canada's Court's interpretive methodology for Charter cases, perhaps most centrally that rights are of presumptive importance, and limitations the exception that are only acceptable if governments meet a demanding test of justification."

"The citation of Oakes by courts in Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe has made Oakes one of the central models for rights-based constitutional adjudication. So the almost immediate retreat from Oakes is of broader constitutional significance, both domestically and abroad. If Oakes was a model for how to interpret the Canadian Charter, and how rights-protecting documents in other jurisdictions should be construed, the question is what kind of model it remains two decades on."

"There is a dominant narrative on what the true legacy of Oakes and the retreat from Oakes are. The argument is that Oakes set out a uniform approach for assessing justifiable limitations on Charter rights irrespective of differences in context, but that in the decade following Oakes, the Court searched for criteria of deference, to reliably and predictably categorize cases where deference was warranted and those where it was not. These categories were not applied consistently by the Court, and, indeed, produced disagreement within the Court over how they should be applied in specific cases. Underlying both trends were concerns regarding the cogency of the distinctions employed by the Court to delineate the boundaries of these categories. The broader lesson of Oakes is the need to tailor judicial review to the unique context of each case."

"Although the dominant narrative captures much of Oakes' legacy, it misses much of what is at stake in many recent s. 1 cases, and by implication, what the true legacy of Oakes and the retreat from Oakes are."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Internet Librarian Conference Presentations Available

Material from the recent Internet Librarian conference is available online.

The conference took place in Monterey, California October 23-25, 2006.

Among the presentations are:
  • Teaching Web Search Skills
  • Wikis: Basics, Tools, & Strategies
  • Wikis for Libraries
  • Creating Online Tutorials in Less Than 30 Minutes
  • Integrating RSS into Your Web Site
  • New Search Strategies: Advanced Techniques, Approaches, & Sources
  • OPAC Tips & Tricks for Improving User Experiences
  • The Web 2.0 Challenge to Libraries
  • Intranet Content: Surfacing Full-Text News
  • Podcasting & Videocasting

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Apology Acts - Saying 'Sorry' Without Incurring Liability

The province of Saskatchewan will amend its Evidence Act to allow individuals and corporations to offer a sincere apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability.

On the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website, the provincial Justice Minister is quoted as saying:

"Within legal parameters, I think individuals are very concerned about saying anything that might cause them some legal liabilities and we want to clarify that for people(...) We believe that this will allow matters of dispute between citizens to be resolved, in many cases without a lawsuit. Because sometimes it's not the financial compensation, it's the desire for restoration, for an apology, for an acknowledgment that somebody was hurt."

The text of the bill, known as the Evidence Amendment Act, 2006, is on the Legislative Assembly website.

The province of British Columbia was the first Canadian jurisdiction to introduce a law providing what is called a "safe harbour" for apologizing. The Apology Act of that province took effect on 18 May 2006.

Several American and all Australian jurisdictions have enacted similar legislation which excludes partial or full apologies from proof of liability.

The Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia published a discussion paper on apology laws in January 2006. The province's Ombudsman also reported to the B.C. Legislative Assembly in February 2006 on The Power of an Apology: Removing the Legal Barriers.

Both documents explore the legal, social and psychological issues surrounding public apologies and refer to non-Canadian legislation as well as to scholarly articles on the subject.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 17, 2006

Myths About the Complexity of Legal Language

The Social Science Research Network has published a forthcoming article on Some Myths about Legal Language by Professor Peter Tiersma of the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

To make a long story short, the article argues that "legal language is a myth, in that it is really just ordinary language with a great deal of technical terminology".

Excerpts from the final section of the full-text:

"In sum, it would be a gross mischaracterization to suggest that lawyers have a language of their own. But it would also be inaccurate to say that legal language is nothing more than formal written language with some additional technical vocabulary. Elsewhere I have suggested that it is a sublanguage of English. Whatever the label, it is somewhere between a separate language and ordinary English, and it is much closer to ordinary English than many people seem to think."

"We have seen that one thing that makes the language of lawyers distinct is its large
technical vocabulary. Such terms would obviously have to be converted into plain English. I have no doubt that this can be done, but is it a good idea? ...Many technical terms are useful, and it is senseless to try to eliminate them entirely."

"Efforts to write law in plain English would also have to deal with the textual conventions of the legal profession, which allow the meaning of a word or phrase to be explained or sometimes modified by judicial decision. Either we would have to abolish the ability of courts to do so, which would radically change our legal system, or we would have to require judges construing legislation to literally rewrite the language, or insert definitions, in ordinary English, so that the language of the statute remains transparent. Obviously, drafting the law in plain language would be pointless if readers have to consult judicial opinions in order to know what a statute really means."

"Thus, the main obstacle to writing the law in plain English is that, unless the law itself is vastly simplified, it will require the use of so many words that there will be nothing plain about it. Most advocates of plain English recognize this problem. Although they continue to agitate for plainer language in legal documents, including statutes, they realize that many parts of the law are too complex to allow them to be fully and comprehensibly explained to ordinary citizens. They therefore advocate that those legal areas in which citizens have particular interest, like criminal law, be officially summarized and explained."
Related Library Boy posts that deal with plain language include:
  • Plain Language Resources for Law, Business, Government, and Life (August 9, 2005): "Clear language or plain language refers to jargon-free, understandable language. For the past 20 years or more, an international movement has been working to make the language used in law, health information, financial services, commerce and business more accessible. Plain language does NOT mean dumbed down or simplistic vocabulary."
  • Move Toward Plain Language in Canadian Court Decisions (November 7, 2005): "Saturday's Globe and Mail contains an article by Richard Blackwell entitled 'Doing the write thing: Judges used to put out decisions that were incomprehensible. Now they are sometimes even eloquent. The writing lessons didn't hurt'... As the article explains, the Supreme Court has been removing Latin words from its rulings and altering the format to make them easier to follow for people reading electronic versions on a website. The clear language push is also being promoted in Canada by such organizations as the National Judicial Institute and the Montreal-based Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, where new judges have their writing critiqued by English professors."
  • Fifth International Plain Language Conference (November 25, 2005): "I have had the pleasure of working as a volunteer with Sally McBeth, Manager of the consultancy business Clear Language and Design, and organizer of the 2002 Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) conference in Toronto. She just got back from the latest PLAIN conference in Washington, D.C. and reports in her newsletter that 'the people who came were even more diverse than they were in Toronto – in terms of professional background as well as country of origin. At the Toronto conference, representatives of eight countries attended. This time, 14 countries were represented'."
  • Plain Language Legal Writing (January 22, 2006): "The Canadian Bar Association's PracticeLink has just published its third in a series of articles on plain language in legal writing: Mastering Modern Legal Correspondence."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Abortion Laws Around the World

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has published Abortion Laws Around the World, a free resource that includes summaries of the laws and practices in countries in North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life is an independent organization based in Washington, DC that "seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Conflict and Security Blog

ELDIS, a British gateway to international development information hosted at the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, UK, has created a Conflict and Security Blog.

The content is wideranging and features news and research updates from editors based at ELDIS.

Topics include different aspects of conflict and development studies, child soldiers, gender and conflict, the political economy of war, private military companies, arms control initiatives, refugee and displaced persons law and international security.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

Six Suggestions for 21st Century Librarians

In the most recent issue of Info Career Trends, Brian S. Mathews - who blogs as The Ubiquitous Librarian - writes optimistically about the future of the library profession in a world that only seems to be interested in Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, and MySpace.

The article is called Librarian As Entrepreneur: A Blueprint For Transforming Our Future.

In it Mathews writes: "We've entered an age that requires an opportunistic workforce. Here are a few things I've picked up along the way that can help us get started".

The 6 suggestions are:
  • Take risks
  • Initiate change
  • Break the silos
  • Read outside the profession
  • Assess constantly
  • Get involved

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Customized Search for Intergovernmental Organizations

The people at Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington, Indiana have developed customized search tools for IGOs - intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, the European Union and the UN.

One tool, based on Google technology, searches in 355 "core IGO URLs". The other search tool, based on a technology called Swiki, rummages through 100 core URLs.

As this Resourceshelf post from late October explains, there are more and more tools out there to allow users and librarians to create customized search applications.

Also see the following articles from SearchEngineWatch:
  • Your Search, Your Way (September 19, 2006): "A new generation of search services goes beyond simple personalization, and lets you customize both your search topics and how results are presented... a number of new services are providing ability to create your own search engine, and to search your way. Not literally of course ... but if you have a few minutes to spare you can do the next best thing, which is to piggyback on the work of others and create a search resource that works the way that you want it to. "
  • Your Search, Your Way, Part Two (September 20, 2006): "Today, we continue our look at personalized search services, focusing in depth on offerings from Yahoo and Eurekster."
  • Google Launches Custom Search Engine Service (October 24, 2006): "Want your own Google-flavored specialized search engine for your web site or blog? With Google's new Custom Search Engine service, it takes just minutes to set up your own unique search engine.Google is joining Yahoo, Eurekster and many others in offering a customized search platform that makes it easy for anyone to offer a highly tailored search engine."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wiki Comparison Tool

The WikiMatrix website allows for the side-by-side comparison of the features of different wiki software packages.

The comparison includes information on system requirements, programming language, data storage, security, support, usability, syntax, statistics, and other features.

Related Library Boy posts on wikis include:
  • Wikis in the Workplace (July 10, 2006): "Recently, there have been a few interesting explanations of how to adopt wiki technology for team projects: 'Wikis in the Workplace: How Wikis Can Help Manage Knowledge in Library Reference Services' - this is from the latest issue of the electronic journal LIBRES, published by Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia... 'What Is a Wiki (and How to Use One for Your Projects)' - this was published last week by the O'Reilly Network."
  • More on Wikis as Library Tools (July 26, 2006): "More and more libraries are exploring the use of collaborative content creation tools like 'wikis' to create subject guides or to maintain databases of reference questions. I know that we at the Supreme Court of Canada library want to see how, if at all, wikis can be integrated into our work."
  • The Potential of Law Wikis (August 16, 2006): "Legal research wikis ... would be of great uses to our patrons. They could be used in academic libraries to teach research concepts. They could be used in law firm libraries to showcase underused resources. Some day, we should all share our collective knowledge of legal research and law librarianship in a Wikipedia-like resource, each of us contributing with our particular area of expertise"
  • Recent Material On Web 2.0 (October 15, 2006): "A number of interesting texts about Web 2.0 technologies have come to my attention in the past few days: (...) 'Why Wiki?', an online presentation by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee: 'A Wiki is a website which visitors can modify. Wikipedia, an open encyclopedia, has become a very popular research site in recent years. This online video course will introduce you to the benefits and disadvantages of the new and controversial publication format'. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Legal Citation Guidelines for Case Names

The Canadian Citation Committee has developed new guidelines for how to properly identify parties involved in court cases.

"[6] The digital revolution also improves courts’ ability to disseminate their own decisions. As courts are increasingly assigning to their decisions a neutral citation which includes a case name, they need guidance as to how to create it. Unfortunately, publishers’ current case naming practices, besides their lack of uniformity, would often require editorial and legal training of office personnel, which courts can’t always afford. "

"[7] This is why new guidelines are needed. The underlying rationale for the case name creation has changed since the development of the 1990 (...) standards. Now that case law dissemination and legal research has entered the digital realm, the case retrieving role of the case name is becoming less salient. Furthermore, the current over-designed case naming practices seem to be unique to Canada. Elsewhere, even in countries that share the same case law reporting tradition, case names are prepared with only a few rules easily laid out over a few pages. It is the opinion of the authors of the present guidelines that the adoption of a simpler scheme will permit regular court personnel to prepare a name for each case in a more straightforward manner. Consistency will be achieved simply, cheaply and easily."

The proposals will be forwarded to the Canadian Judicial Council for discussion and approval.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Does Computerized Research Change How Lawyers Think and Analyze?

Elizabeth M. McKenzie, law professor at the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, has published the findings of an empirical study on how the use of full-text online legal resources has changed the way lawyers conduct legal analysis and how they write.

From the abstract of Computers in Law: Changing the Way Lawyers Think:

"Using textual analysis, the author empirically measured changes in legal practice brought about by the use of computers. The author compared briefs and decisions with an issue of first impression from a decade before computers entered the practice of law and again, a decade when computers have become ubiquitous. When a lawyer or judge must deal with a case of first impression, there is no precedent available. They either make policy arguments based on what would be the best policy or they use reasoning by analogy. The research found attorneys and judges in the pre-computer decade used reasoning by analogy much more frequently than they did in the recent decade. That change reflects the different way a researcher performs legal analysis when searching in books compared to creating a query for online research."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Surveillance and Privacy Survey from Queen's University

Earlier this week, Queen's University researchers released the results of a survey of 9,000 people around the world about their experiences with surveillance and privacy.

"This is believed to be the first cross-cultural study of its kind that explores relationships between attitudes and experiences, and how much people trust corporations and governments to handle personal information, including the sharing of such information with third parties, the researcher says... the survey included nearly 50 questions on participant’s attitudes about issues like consumer surveillance, racial profiling at airports, national ID cards, media coverage of surveillance issues, workplace privacy, knowledge of privacy regulations, control over personal data and public trust in government. "
One of the interesting findings is that Americans seem more concerned than Canadians at the intrusiveness of national security laws introduced since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It appears that the constant bombardment of fear messages by U.S. authorities and commercial media has not convinced American citizens that everything is OK.

Major results:
  • a majority of respondents believe surveillance laws are intrusive (U.S. 57 per cent, Canada 48 per cent,Spain 53 per cent, Mexico 46 per cent, Brazil 41 per cent, France 40 per cent)
  • a majority worry about providing personal information on websites (China 54 per cent,Canada 66 per cent, Brazil 70 per cent, Spain 62 per cent and U.S. 60 per cent)
  • a majority believe the use of closed circuit television deters in-store crime (Mexico 88 percent, U.S. 80 per cent, Canada 79 per cent, France 73 per cent)
  • a majority rejected out-right the premise that airport authorities should give extra security checks to visible minority passengers. About 60 per cent of Chinese, Hungarians, Brazilians, and Canadians but only a third of Americans found such practices unacceptable
  • there were major differences on some questions: 63 per cent of Chinese respondents trust the government to protect the personal information it collects compared to just 48 per cent of Canadians and a mere 20 per cent of Brazilians say they trust their respective governments with their personal information

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

CanLII Extends Historical Coverage of Appeal Decisions

The Canadian Legal Information Institute or CanLII announced today that it has completed a major expansion of its historical coverage of judicial decisions.

In a message sent to e-mail list subscribers, the not-for-profit organization that seeks to make primary sources of Canadian law accessible for free on the Internet explained that "the average coverage of the Appeal Courts databases is now of 12 years."

The more precise figures are:
  • Supreme Court of Canada - 22 years
  • Federal Court of Appeal - 9 years
  • British Columbia Court of Appeal - 17 years
  • Alberta Court of Appeal - 9 years
  • Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan - 13 years
  • Manitoba Court of Appeal - 8 years
  • Court of Appeal for Ontario - 13 years
  • Quebec Court of Appeal - 20 years
  • Court of Appeal of New Brunswick - 5 years
  • Nova Scotia Court of Appeal - 17 years
  • Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, Appeal Division - 14 years
  • Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court of Appeal - 6 years
  • Court of Appeal of the Yukon Territory - 11 years
  • Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories - 11 years
  • Court of Appeal of Nunavut - 1 year

In addition, some 2,000 early landmark decisions that predate the above cutoff points have been digitized and published on CanLII.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Government Ethics Watchdog Site Voted World's Best Blog

The U.S.-based Sunlight Foundation website has been voted the world's best blog by an international jury put together by Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcasting service. DW, as it is known, is the equivalent of Radio Canada International.

The Best of the Blogs Awards jury handed out prizes in 15 different categories. The Sunlight Foundation was chosen as best blog overall: "the BOBs jury members said they admired the Sunlight Foundation's work to increase transparency in government and called the project a positive example of how blogs can shape political discourse. The watchblog was also praised for its potential to be adapted for use in other countries."

The Sunlight Foundation was founded in early 2006 to help U.S. citizens harness the power of digital technology to "help reduce corruption, ensure greater transparency and accountability by government, and foster public trust in the vital institutions of democracy" according to the Foundation website.

The jury included prominent bloggers, journalists and academic experts from the US, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

UK Courts to Accept TV Cameras

The British media is reporting that civil and criminal trials in the UK may soon be televised.

According to the Nov. 13, 2006 Reuters article Courtroom TV could be a step nearer, "(P)roposals that could lead to television cameras being installed in courts could soon be set out by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, head of the judiciary. A five-week pilot was started in Nov 2004 in the Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice in London and the consultation process was completed in the summer of 2005."

The same day article in The Times, entitled Criminal trials to be shown on television, explains that there would be "curbs on coverage to prevent victims and witnesses being identified."

Also, "(U)nder relaxed rules, court proceedings that could be televised include: appeals; civil proceedings — opening and closing arguments, judge’s ruling; Crown Court trials— opening speeches, closing speeches, judges’ summing up, passing of sentence; appeals in family cases but not those involving children."

A consultation paper should be ready by Christmas.

Related Library Boy post - Report on TV Cameras in Ontario Courtrooms (August 24, 2006): "A report released today by Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant recommends that cameras be allowed in some courts in the province. This would include TV cameras.The list of Courts would cover the Ontario Court of Appeal and lower courts where no witnesses would be examined."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Canadian Libraries Hiding From U.S. Patriot Act

This is a follow-up to the November 5, 2006 Library Boy post entitled Canadian Libraries Abandoning U.S.-Based Servers Because of Patriot Act.

Many Canadian university libraries are worried that U.S. authorities will be able to snoop on the type of research Canadian professors and students conduct through Refworks. Refworks is an online research management tool that allows people with a password - students and researchers - to gather, manage, store and share information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.

That information is normally kept on U.S. servers, which has led to fears that the Patriot Act could allow U.S. authorities to gain access to potentially sensitive information or even to benign information that could be misunterpreted by overzealous U.S. snoops.

Out of concern for privacy, many of the universities have been transferring to Canadian servers.

This Saturday's Globe and Mail had a follow-up to the story: Universities move to hide work from U.S. eyes:

"Amid heightened fears about terrorist activities, Canadian university officials worry that if the research is of a sensitive nature, it could be misunderstood. For example, an academic researching North Korea or nuclear weapons could find the work flagged by the Bush government, university librarians fear. As a result, Dalhousie, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Alberta are among the institutions that have switched to the Canadian server. The hope is that data on a Canadian server will be protected from the Patriot Act, which gives authorities virtually unlimited investigative powers. "

The institutions that have made the switch can still subscribe to Refworks, the only difference being that all personal information about the research patterns of their professors and students will now be stored on Canadian servers at the University of Toronto.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 11, 2006

U.S. Lawyers Allowed to Snoop on Hidden Metadata

The American Bar Association (ABA) has ruled that lawyers are allowed to look at and use the hidden metadata that may have been inadvertently included in electronic legal documents they receive, even if sent to them by mistake by opposing counsel.

In a press release dated November 9, 2006, the ABA says this is OK even if this is "contrary to the view of some legal ethics authorities".

The ABA does state that the recipient has an obligation to notify the other party that the documents have been received, but: "It does not require the recipient to return those documents unread. The committee also made clear that it was not addressing situations in which documents are obtained through criminal, fraudulent, deceitful or otherwise improper conduct."

This is a follow-up to earlier Library Boy posts about the "dangers" of hidden metadata in legal documents that can reveal who authored and modified them, what those modifications, comments, additions and deletions were, who was sent them, etc.:
  • Metadata in Word Documents Can be a Legal Minefield (May 12, 2005): "Could it be that Law Society regulations prohibit lawyers from taking advantage of another lawyer's lack of sophistication or of another lawyer's error, where that error is to divulge privileged or confidential information via metadata? In other words, if a non-tech-savvy lawyer e-mails a contract, and if that contract contains hidden text or comments or track changes that give away his or her client's negotiating tactics or position, or the client's questions or comments, is there an obligation on the part of the recipient lawyer to avoid opening the document?"
  • Avoiding Problems with Hidden Document Metadata (February 6, 2006): "SiliconValley.com, an offshoot of the San Jose Mercury News, printed an article on Feb. 3 entitled Stronger efforts being made against embarrassing document 'metadata' (...) The article explains that examining the metadata in a word processing document exposed how pharma giant Merck had tried to mask data showing the connection between the drug Vioxx and heart attacks. Very embarrassing. As well, 'a United Nations report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minster Rafik Hariri developed new layers of intrigue when it was revealed that damaging accusations about Syria's involvement had been removed before publication'."
  • Dealing with the "Meta Menace" (September 6, 2006): "Problems can arise if law firms send files to clients or opposing counsel that still contains markup. It may as well be hard copy full of sticky notes. Consequences may include a compromised bargaining position and violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Laws governing metadata are still in their infancy, but early precedents permit tech-savvy counsellors to freely read any metadata they find, much as they would a forgotten sticky"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

Background Material on Asylum Producing Countries

ResourceShelf recently drew my attention to the Country of origin information service of the United Kingdom's Home Office:

"Country of Origin Information Service (COI Service) exists to provide accurate, objective, sourced and up-to-date information on asylum seekers' countries of origin, for use by ... officials involved in the asylum determination process."

"COI Service is staffed by specialist country officers whose sole function is to research, compile and produce country of origin information (COI). They monitor the position in their countries daily and have access to all the most up-to-date COI sources."

"All COI products focus on human rights issues and matters frequently raised in asylum and human rights claims. They are compiled from reliable material produced by external information sources such as the US State Department, UNHCR, human rights organisations, and news media. All COI products are in the public domain and are based on published or unclassified source material. They do not contain any Home Office opinion or policy."
Other sources of information about "asylum-producing countries" include:
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Country of Origin information: "The country of origin information database is the first and foremost tool for country information that UNHCR provides. The information provided is essential for the refugee status determination procedure, and it is often the only and most complete tool that is available for refugee-related issues. It is also very useful for research purposes. The majority of the documents relate to the human rights situation in the countries. The sources are carefully selected, and aim to provide a balanced and objective overview. There are international (including UNHCR) documents, as well as governmental and non-governmental reports"
  • Country of Origin Research Documents (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada): "These papers (...) provide in-depth research on issues relevant to the refugee protection determination process. Issue Papers dating back to 1995 and Extended Responses dating back to 1999 may be found."
  • National Documentation Packages (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada): "National Documentation Packages contain a selection of documents on general country of origin information, human rights and security conditions, and various types of refugee protection claims. NDPs are regularly reviewed and updated as country conditions change."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Titles at the Supreme Court of Canada Library

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of October 16th to 31st, 2006 is now available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loans to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Privacy & Human Rights Report

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and Privacy International just released their most recent survey of global privacy trends.

Entitled Privacy and Human Rights 2005, the report describes the situation in 70 countries around the world, describing legal protections for privacy as well as events relating to privacy and surveillance.

"Each country report covers the constitutional, legal and regulatory framework protecting privacy and the surveillance of communications by law enforcement, new landmark court cases, most noteworthy advocacy work of non-governmental organizations and human rights groups, various new developments, and major news stories related to privacy."

The authors note a number of trends such as:

  • stricter controls to ensure the identification of people crossing country borders
  • increased surveillance powers and sharing of intelligence information among government agencies
  • growing government interest in surveillance technologies like biometrics, smart cards, medical information databases, data mining and video surveillance
  • the rapid growth in private sector surveillance
The report does draw attention to the successful opposition by civil liberties groups and NGOs to privacy intrusions in various countries as well as the adoption of freedom of information and privacy protection measures in others.

Also see:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One in Ten Respond to Phishing Attacks

According to recent research described in the New Scientist, "One in 10 internet users may be lured into handing over sensitive personal information such as a credit card number, by fraudulent 'phishing' emails".

Phishing involves the use of messages made to look like they come from a legitimate source such as a financial institution in an attempt to get consumers to divulge personal data that can then be used for fraudulent ends.

For the purposes of their experiment, 2 researchers at Indiana University were able to create and modify e-mail messages resembling those of the eBay auction site. The log-in feature had been tweaked to point to a fake site if and when recipients clicked on a link. They wanted to test how many people were be be fooled into responding. ¸

Previous studies had anticipated at most a 5% response rate.

Earlier Library Boy posts about phishing include:

[Source - beSpacific]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

"Dirty Dozen" Spam Producing Countries

On Monday, an IT security company called Sophos released its most recent report about the top 12 spam producing countries for the 3rd quarter of 2006.

The countries, in decreasing order of spam badness, are the United States, China, France, South Korea, Spain, Poland, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, Israel and Japan.

The report also outlines some of the trends and techniques used by spammers.

Earlier Library Boy posts on spam include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

2006 Corruption Perceptions Index

The international NGO Transparency International just released its 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index, "a composite index that draws on multiple expert opinion surveys that poll perceptions of public sector corruption in 163 countries around the world (...) It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption."

According to the organization:

"Countries with a significant worsening in perceived levels of corruption include: Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Jordan, Laos, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United States. Countries with a significant improvement in perceived levels of corruption include: Algeria, Czech Republic, India, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Paraguay, Slovenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uruguay."
People may also be interested in Transparency International's recently launched Bribe Payers Index that examines the "propensity of firms from industrialised countries to bribe abroad" and its Global Corruption Barometer, "a survey that assesses general public attitudes toward and experience of corruption in dozens of countries around the world."

Earlier Library Boy posts about corruption include:
  • Political Corruption Resources (April 8, 2005): "Canada has been rocked by recent devastating testimony at the Gomery Commission hearings about alleged corruption in the administration of federal government advertising/sponsorship budgets. Many resources exist out there to track the phenomenon of political corruption on the international scale."
  • Good Old Canadian Political Sleaze (April 11, 2005): "(W)e have a pretty interesting history when it comes to good old fashioned sleaze, from bribes to our first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald in exchange for the contract to build the transcontinental railway to the Munsinger Affair under Diefenbaker, during whose term of office our deputy minister of defense had a long affair with a German hooker who may have been working for the KGB. Then, of course, there was our minister of customs and excise during Prohibition who hired bootleggers to 'guard the border' and there is the small matter of the federal Liberals in the 30s accepting over $1 million in bribes in exchange for the right to dam a river in Quebec (...) Now whoever said Canadian history was boring?"
  • Global Corruption Report 2006 (February 4, 2006): "Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to combating corruption across the world, has just released its Global Corruption Report 2006. The major focus of this year's report is the impact of corruption in the healthcare sector in developing countries."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Library and Archives Canada Exhibit for 25th Anniversary of the Charter

2007 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Constitution Act, 1982 which entrenched Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Library and Archives Canada has put together an online exhibition Building a Just Society: A Retrospective of Canadian Rights and Freedoms for which it has "invited a number of individual Canadians to contribute their personal thoughts and thought-provoking commentary on this vital section of our Constitution."

The contributions are from The Honourable Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada, poet George Elliott Clarke, environmentalist Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the former Premier of Alberta Peter Lougheed, civil libertarian Julius Grey, and Moslem feminist author and journalist Irshad Manji.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Whistleblower Update

Wow!

I received an e-mail message today from Hamburg, Germany from Björn Rohde-Liebenau who suggested some additional whistleblowing resources, an area I have posted about in the past. Rohde-Liebenau is presenting a paper on whistleblowing later this month at a conference of the Council of Europe:
"Dear Michel-Adrien,

just discovered your blog and valuable resources there. Some 'Old European' stuff has just arrived in the US blog scene:

Workplace Prof Blog: Rohde-Liebenau on Whistleblowing Concepts for the Public Sector: Observations on an International Best Practice

with further links, to which I would add this one:

Whistleblowing Rules (2006 study for the European Parliament)

and generally the resources page of our bilingual website: http://www.risk-communication.de/en/Publications.html

The Australians have also released some interesting new materials on 'next generation whistleblower legislation'... "
Post aus Deutschland? Sehr cool!

Earlier Library Boy posts about public sector ethics and whistleblowing include:

Ich danke Ihnen sehr herzlich Herrn Rohde-Liebenau für Ihre Lese-Empfehlungen!

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:48 pm 2 comments links to this post

Online Poll for Top Law Blog

Robert Ambrogi, the writer of Law.com's Legal Blog Watch column and of the Lawsites blog, is conducting an informal poll asking people for the one law-related blog you feel you must read as regularly as possible.

Why don't all we Canadians write in and suggest Slaw.ca?

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 06, 2006

U.S. State Legislative Tracking Site

The October 30 issue of Cornell Law Library's InSite current awareness service describes the National Conference of State Legislatures' 50-State Legislative Tracking Web Resources.

The InSite annotation explains that the site "provides access to legislative and statutory databases, compilations, and state charts and maps covering a variety of issues throughout the fifty states (...) Statute charts indicate the states that have legislated in a particular area with reference to the relevant code sections."

The site makes it possible to compare how various American states have legislated in areas such as financial services, budgeting and taxation, criminal justice, education, electoral law, energy, environmental protection, ethics, healthcare, the rights of labour, telecom and information policy, and transportation.

Earlier Library Boy posts that discuss the National Conference of State Legislatures include:
  • Privacy Breach Resources (July 4, 2005): "The National Conference of State Legislatures has a list of state legislation (in effect or under consideration) requiring notification of consumers when the security of computerized systems containing personal information has been breached."
  • List of Electronic Surveillance Laws in the U.S. (December 22, 2005): "The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a detailed list of U.S. state and federal legislation and warrant procedures in relation to electronic wiretapping and eavesdropping."
  • Lobbyist and Government Ethics Resources in the U.S. And Canada (January 12, 2006): "Center for Ethics in Government: part of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the website provides information on ethics laws and commissions for each U.S. state, laws covering gifts, nepotism and conflicts of interest, and news stories about government ethics issues."
  • Whistleblowing Resources - International (February 26, 2006): "State Whistleblower Laws (National Conference of State Legislatures): "Although legislatures in all fifty states have enacted whistleblower protection statutes, the measure and scope of state laws vary greatly. Most state statutes focus on protection against employer retaliation and provide a cause of action and remedies for whistleblowers who experience job-related retaliation as a consequence of their revelations. There are also important points of divergence within the anti-retaliation provisions, including the type of whistleblower protected, the subject of protected whistleblowing, the requirements for filing a grievance and appeal, and the remedies provided to the employee suffering retaliation. Most states offer general whistleblower protection to public employees, while fewer than half offer the same protection to all workers. States which have enacted whistleblower protection laws for private sector employees are even fewer. Many state statutes protect whistleblowers whose disclosures involve mismanagement, waste or abuse of authority."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Academic Info - Directory for Web Research Resources

Academic Info is an online subject directory of academic resources created and maintained by a law librarian at the University of Washington.

After a long break, its monthly What's New list is back online. It often has law-related items.

Another good source is the U.K.-based Intute Social Sciences directory. It also has a page indicating the most recently added resources.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Libraries Abandoning U.S.-Based Servers Because of Patriot Act

The following news item has been zipping around the library blogosphere and librarian newslists for the past few days.

It appears that Canadian academic libraries are worried that the American government will be able to snoop on the type of research Canadian professors and students conduct on databases stored on U.S. servers. So they are transferring to Canadian servers.

This is all due to the Patriot Act.

More from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:41 pm 1 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Canada's Federal Court Now Offers RSS Feeds

I picked this up from the Vancouver Law Librarian Blog: Canada's Federal Court now has RSS feeds.

The Court is "Canada's national trial court which hears and decides legal disputes arising in the federal domain, including claims against the Government of Canada, civil suits in federally-regulated areas and challenges to the decisions of federal tribunals".

The link for the RSS feed is in the upper right hand corner of the content section of the Court's home page (below the navigation).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

UK Fast Becoming Surveillance Society Says Info Commissioner

Welcome to the future(?).

Richard Thomas, the United Kingdom Information Commissioner, stated in a report released today that his country is sleep-walking into a surveillance society.

This is due to the increasing accumulation of credit card, cell phone and loyalty card information, the monitoring of workers' computer activities, and the spread of closed circuit television surveillance.

There are now 4.2 million closed circuit cameras in Britain and Britons are picked up 300 times a day on camera as they go about their regular private business.

The report was presented to the 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners' Conference in London.

More coverage:
  • 4.2 million UK spy cameras (Scotsman): "Britons are the most spied on people in the democratic world, a new study has revealed (...) Only China and Russia rival the UK for covert surveillance carried out on ordinary members of the public, according to the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas."
  • How we are being watched (BBC): "Legal and logistical obstacles stand in the way of a massive Big Brother-ish database, but information is being gathered on almost everything we do. Everything from shopping tags to mobile phones has the potential to be watching us."
  • Big Brother Britain 2006: 'We are waking up to a surveillance society all around us' (The Independent): "New technology and 'invisible' techniques are being used to gather a growing amount of information about UK citizens. The level of surveillance will grow even further in the next 10 years, which could result in a growing number of people being discriminated against and excluded from society, says a report by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas."
  • Information Commissioner: Britain is a surveillance society (Politics.co.uk): "Although he acknowledged that surveillance could 'be necessary or desirable' in helping fight terrorism and crime, he added: 'But unseen, uncontrolled or excessive surveillance can foster a climate of suspicion and undermine trust'."
  • In the glare of the spotlight (Guardian): "It's a beautiful day up here in leafy Cheshire; this morning brought a mackerel sky, a hot air balloon drifting over the Peaks and the first good frost of the year. I woke up and bounced. But what's this to spoil my morning? The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, tells me I'm waking up to a surveillance society. Duh. The report's appreciated Richard, but what's new?"
  • They come not as single spies, but in battalions (Telegraph): "History will record that the most baleful legacy of New Labour is not its alarming incompetence or its mendacity in the conduct of public affairs – shameful though they are – but the way in which it has destroyed our privacy. We are the most spied-upon society in Europe, with more CCTV cameras than the rest of the EU combined. In the international rankings calculated by the human rights organisation Privacy International we are near the bottom of the table, marginally above Russia and China but below the Philippines and Thailand."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

ALA Calls for Notable GovDocs for May 2007 Library Journal Issue

GODORT, the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association, has sent out a call asking people to nominate government documents for consideration for the annual review article in the May 15, 2007 issue of Library Journal. Government documents can be American or international (so this includes Canadian material).

Documents or web sites need to be have been published or created in 2005-2006. The Notable Documents project was begun in 1982 and aims to promote awareness of government publications by libraries and their users.

Unfortunately, no Canadian documents were included in the 2005 list. However, there were 2 Canadian resources that made it into the winner's circle in 2004:
The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2006.

[Source - Access to Government Information blog]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Internet Librarian International 2006 Conference Presentations Available

Presentations from the recent Internet Librarian International conference in London, UK are online.

The conference covered themes such as:
  • Web 2.0 and Library 2.0
  • Open Access, Open Source
  • Digitization
  • Management Techniques for Internet Librarians
  • Internet Search
  • E-Learning and Information Literacy
  • Taxonomies, Folksonomies, and Ontologies
  • Metasearching and Federated Search

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

World’s Largest Collection of Conflict Resolution Material Goes to California

This is a follow-up to the October 20, 2006 Library Boy post entitled International Dispute Resolution Blog.

The Pepperdine University School of Law in California, which is mentioned in that post, was recently chosen by the American Arbitration Association to "take over its prestigious Library and Information Center, consisting of more than 24,000 titles on arbitration, mediation, negotiation, fact-finding, and other international and domestic dispute resolution procedures".

Pepperdine is home to the Straus Institute, which was ranked the No. 1 dispute resolution program in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Report Calls for Major Reforms to Canada Labour Code

A major new report by the Federal Labour Standards Review Commission released yesterday is calling for an overhaul of federal labour standards which have changed little since they were introduced some 40 years ago.

The standards, which form Part III of the Canada Labour Code, cover hours of work, minimum wages, statutory holidays and annual vacations, statutory leaves (maternity, parental, compassionate care, bereavement and sick leave) and the termination of contracts of employment.

They apply to workers under federal jurisdiction such as those employed in banks, telecom or broadcast firms, postal services, airlines, surface transportation, airports and seaports, grain handling facilities, nuclear facilities and First Nations governments.

Among the major recommendations of the report, that comes after 2 years of broad-based consultations:

  • Ottawa should re-establish a federal minimum wage - the report does not suggest any floor but notes that many suggestions were made during hearings for a figure of at least $10 per hour
  • Temporary, part-time, contract and other vulnerable workers deserve much fairer treatment - they should receive equal wages and benefits for equal work as compared to permanent full-time staff, and be able to climb out of their precarious status after a given period
  • There is a need for tighter rules governing overtime
  • Work-family balance has to be made a priority, including better annual holidays, and easier access to study and to family leave
  • Financial penalties for violations of labour standards by employers need to be made much tougher than is currently the case

Earlier Library Boy posts about labour include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:41 pm 0 comments links to this post