Friday, October 16, 2009

Training Lawyers Online

Greetings from the meeting of educational designers at the Australian National University in Canberra. One interesting presentation is on training Lawyers online. The idea is that the students do a finishing school in a simulated law firm, which makes heavy use of online tools. This is by Jonathan Powles, College of Law: The development of a simulated professional learning environment for law. Apart from the value in improved education, this has proved popular with the students and profitable for the university.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LegalXML Electronic Court Filing Standard

In trying to answer my own question about how the Federal Court of Australia could set standards for exchanging information electronically, I came across the OASIS LegalXML Electronic Court Filing Technical Committee. They have a 55 page LegalXML Electronic Court Filing, working draft (V 4.0, March 17, 2008):

This document defines the LegalXML Electronic Court Filing 4.0 (ECF 4.0) specification, which consists of a set of non-proprietary XML and Web services specifications, along with clarifying explanations and amendments to those specifications, that have been added for the purpose of promoting interoperability among electronic court filing vendors and systems. ECF Version 4.0 is a major release and brings the specification into conformance with the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) 2.0.

This is accompanied by 1Mbyte of XML definitions of the transactions and metadata. This is much too complicated for what the federal court has in mind, but some of the definitions and techniques may be of use. Also this is not a consensus draft and the committee may be a long way from having a final document, if ever.

The standard includes:





It also removes some ambiguity over date formats:
  • Calendar date values should be expressed as “CCYY-MM-DD”, with an optional time zone qualifier designated by appending -hh:00, where hh represent the number of hours the local time zone is behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

  • Time values should be expressed as “hh:mm:ss.sss”, with an optional time zone qualifier designated by appending -hh:00, where hh represent the number of hours the local time zone is behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

There is also a useful diagram describing the "Filing Preparation to Docketing Process Model".

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Federal Court of Australia Document Management Protocol

The Federal Court of Australia is working on two Document Management Protocols as part of its Document Management, Discovery and the use of Technology in the conduct of Litigation" practice note. The new guidelines were due to come into effect 1 July 2008, but appears to have been delayed for more consultation. So I thought I would give this to my EDM students at ANU to think about as a systems development problem and perhaps help the court.

Here is the draft tutorial question:

The Federal Court of Australia is working out how lawyers can exchange information about some of the large number of electronic documents now used in court cases (called "e-Discovery"). But being lawyers, they have used a lot of words to describe what is an information processing system. This will make for a lot of work for the people who have to implement it and leave room for incompatibility between systems used by different law firms.

Don't try and read it in detail, but quickly look at: "Advanced Document Management Protocol (Example)", Federal Court of Australia, Revision 0.18, 30 June 2008:

  1. What are some of the problems with the metadata and document format specifications of this system?
  2. How would you improve the speculation?
  3. What standards would you suggest the court specify for particular metadata elements and document formats? Give some examples.

If you don't know where to start, look though some of the standards mentioned in the lecture notes.

Some of what I found along the way:

The "Practice Note" gives a general introduction to what the system should do. There is a , there is a checklist for the lawyers to the case to use and a glossary of terms. There are then two protocols defined: Default Document Management Protocol (DDMP) and Advanced Document Management Protocol (ADMP). The advanced protocol is intended for where there are more than 5000 Documents expected.

Comparison of the Default and Advanced Document Management Protocols

Curiously the advanced protocol document is only six pages longer than the default (19 versus 13 pages). Given that much of the information is the same between the two systems, it would be much easier if the advanced description only contained the additions and differences from the default. As it is it is necessary to make a careful comparison of the two documents to see what is different.

The documents use English text to describe the protocols. As a result they cannot be directly implemented by a computer system. English descriptions of the metadata are used. This makes for an imprecise and long document. It would be useful if a specification could be implemented in XML Schema. There are no references to formal standards. As an example PDF is specified, but no particular version of PDF (it might be preferable to use the Archive ISO standard version in this application). The court might choose to use the Dublin Core and other metadata standards recommended by the National Archives of Australia.

The default protocol uses a comma-separated values (“CSV”) format spreadsheet for providing the list of documents. The advanced protocol uses a Microsoft Access Database with four tables.

The spreadsheet columns required for Document Descriptions is as follows:
(a) Document ID;
(b) Document Title;
(c) Document Type;
(d) Document Date;
(e) Author;
(f) Recipient;
(g) Host Document ID; and
(h) Folder and Filename.
Table NameTable Description
ExportMain Document information
PartiesPeople and organisation information for each Document
PagesListing of electronic image filenames for each Document
Export_ExtrasAdditional data fields for each Document

Export Table
FieldData TypeExplanation – Document Types and Coding Method and possible values
Document_IDText, 255Document ID in accordance with Schedule 1.
Text, 255...
Document_DateDate, 11DD-MMM-YYYY

One point to note from this is that dates are not specified in ISO date format.

Now I wonder what the students will make of it. ;-)

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Location privacy issues seminar

University of NSW, Law and Policy Centre, are hosting a free seminar on location privacy issues, 23rd July 2008 in Sydney. It will have r researchers and commentators from industry , academia, government and policy think tanks discussing: Legal / Policy Issues, Technology Issues and Social Issues of technologies such as GPS.




0830 -0900



Ed Garvin




Chris Rizos

Location Based Services and issues such as Privacy


Roger Clarke

You Are Where You've Been. Location Technologies' Deep Privacy Impact


Morning Tea

Session II: Legal/Policy Issues


Helen Versey

Location Privacy : Privacy regulator's perspective

1125- 1150

Rob Nicholls & Michelle Rowland

Hic et nunc: Provision of location based services to law enforcement agencies


Mia Garlick

Australian Telecom Law, its current interpretation of location information, and the future


Group photo of speakers:




Session III: Technology Issue


Lyn Moore

Location Privacy: Telstra's Perspective


Les Fenech

Practicalities of delivering LBS and policy/privacy issues


David Vaile

Google Street View


Matt Duckham

Obfuscation: Location privacy protection through spatial information hiding


Afternoon Tea

Session IV: Social Issues: 0330-0430


Dan Svantesson

Geoidentification - " A serious threat to your location privacy on the Internet?


M.G. Michael

A research note on ethics in the emerging age of Ãœberveillance


Usman Iqbal

Privacy-aware telematics technologies - GPS enabled insurance and social issues


Panel Session


Seminar Concludes

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Friday, February 08, 2008

eGovernment in Hong Kong

In his talk on Wednesday, Joeson Wong, a postgraduate researcher at UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, discussed eGovernment policies in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has a Personal Data (Privacy) Ordnance (PDPO). It has a Digital 21 Strategy, which started after the 1997 Asian financial crisis and was revised in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008.

Joeson discussed the lack of a commonly accepted definition of what e-Government is and argued it is a new concept, multi-disciplinary and there are cultural differences in different countries. He distinguished between internal government processes and external interaction with the citizens effected by e-Government.

Initially the HK strategy was to put government information online, then provide government services on-line. The strategy then moved to quality and effectiveness, including efficiency of government processes. There is no aspect of community consultation or e-democracy in the strategy.

Since 2007 free WiFi hot spots have been installed. WiFi cameras are being installed in the MTR (Metro). Digital surveillance cameras are being installed in public housing estates (with records being kept by the housing authority). This seemed to stray from the topic, but Joeson seemed to be saying that the surveillance was being done under the cover of the e-Government strategy.

HK has a new government portal and new proposals to "review" (close down) non-online services. Joeson raised the issue of how citizens who are unable, or unwilling to use on-line services will cope. In Australia, one way this is addressed is via public libraries with web access. Another option popular in Japan and China is the use of mobile phones. New web appliances, such as those from ASUS built into a TV, may make a difference.

Digital smart card based certificates in Hong Kong have not been successful, after 10 years, with loss of 1.5 billion HK dollars lost. The project is being transferred to a private company after being run by the Post Office. Australian had a similar problem, but on a smaller scale, with Australia Post having a failed digital certificate service.

Joeson argued that eGovernment initiatives should be examined from a privacy perspective, with European style privacy principles.

As with
Martin Backes' talk, I thought Joeson's analysis suffered from the assumption that "Government" was a useful quality label for online services. Services may be provided by government, by non-profit organizations or by for profit companies. All of these need a way for customers to assess the quality of the service and to be consulted on what should be provided.

One way to look at e-Government might be to examine the administration and provision of services for cluster housing, such as apartment buildings. At this level important services are delivered to citizens by a mix of government, non-profit and for profit organizations. A comparison between Australia, Germany, HK and China would be useful.

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Australian domain name system for Germany?

In his talk on Wednesday, Martin Backes a postgraduate researcher at UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, proposed that Germany adopt Australia's web domain administration system. He also found some problems with the Australian system for .GOV.AU

Martin is doing a PHD on administering domain names, with a view to recommend changes for Germany, based on practice in Australia and other countries. He is mainly looking at domain names for local government. AN issue Martin sees with Germany is that it doesn't have a sub-level domain structure. As an example, there is no for government domains.

The German central registry, DENIC, is a non-profit, non-government entity, which is not contracted by government to provide the service, but is perceived by government as doing a good job. The registrar doesn't check ownership of business names or legality, but would become involved if informed the domain name is not appropriate (such as not registering Nazi terms which are banned under German law).

The German system contrasts with the Australia situation where there are four levels of domains names in some cases (, with names checked for legal rights and conflicts with other owners.

Martin used the example of local councils, which are a fourth level domain, under state government. As a result name conflicts are less likely, with councils in different states being able to have the same name. However, it is not clear exactly who is playing what role and what the dispute resolution process in the government case. This may be just a difference of approach in Australia, where governments don't make formal contracts and use a less formal approach to dispute resolution.

The German civil code (BGB) section 12 protects the use of names, but German courts took some time to recognize that domain names were names (not technical codes like phone numbers). The courts also needed to work out who should own a commonly used name like "Heidelberg", which is the name of a city, people and companies. The general rule is "first come first served", but with exceptions for well known persons (such as the company "Shell" being better known than any natural person with that name).

Martin on the whole seems to see the Australian approach as good. Apart from what word to use ("GOV" not being a German abbreviation).

But an issue I suggested he needs to addresse is if the association with government is a useful one. As an example, in Australia some services are provided by government and some by non-government services, such as water, power, telecommunications, medical services, security, garbage collection, education. There is also a fifth level of quasi-government in Australia for body corporates which run cluster housing; these may provide services such as roads, energy, garbage collection, parks and telecommunications, with their own governing bodies and office holders.

If the issue is how the citizen can work out if the web site is one providing quality services, then this is a separate one from if it is an official government service. It would be possible, for example, to have a certification scheme to endorse organizations, which could be expressed via the domain name.

What is a government service and what is private varies over time and from place to place. What might be interesting would be to compare how cluster housing is serviced and governed in Australia, Hong Kong, China and Germany, to see if there is commonality.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

eGovernment in Germany, Hong Kong and Australia

The Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre at the Faculty of Law, UNSW, is having a free talk on eGovernment. Their previous talks on Internet law have been very good:
"Aspects of eGovernment in Germany, Hong Kong and Australia: Domain
names, privacy and more"

Speaker: Joeson Wong and Martin Backes

Date: Wednesday 6 Feb 2008
Time: 10-12 am
Venue: Theatre G23, ground floor, new Law Building, UNSW lower campus

This is a presentation of work in progress in relation to a number of
aspects of eGovernment, particularly domain names and privacy, as it
affects countries such as Germany, Hong Kong and Australia. Two
leading international postgraduate researchers, visiting from their
own countries, will present their current thinking on the specific
topics they have been most recently focused on, and a number of other
experts will join in the discussion to situate these developments in
the broader evolution of e-government and e-governance.

Joeson Wong and Martin Backes are postgraduate researchers at UNSW's
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, focusing on Hong Kong and Germany

Entry is free. Coming from off Campus? If possible please RSVP to


David Vaile
Executive Director
Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre
Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney Australia

T: (02) 9385 3589
F: (02) 9385 1778
M: (0414) 731 249

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Symposium on proposed OO XML ISO standard

Recommended symposium on proposed OO XML ISO standard, 4 December 2007, Sydney:

On Friday 14 December 2007 the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre hosts a symposium to explore issues raised by the proposed OO XML (Open Office XML) document format standard from Microsoft, to assist consideration of the Australian response to the proposal through Standards Australia. Expert commentators from a range of perspectives will present written and oral summaries of the issues, and there will be detailed discussion of the most significant of these. There is proposed informal participation from Standards Australia and experts associated with them in the discussion.

There are two sessions, Technical and Legal. There will be a preliminary 'Background Paper' on the Legal area, and a list of 'top 10 topics' for the Technical.

We hope to explore the underlying realities of OO XML as well as the more political dialogue, which can often 'muddy the waters.' While there are no doubt passions, commercial interests and well-established positions on many of the issues, we encourage participants to come out from behind their settled opinions and engage in open debate and discussion. Outcomes of the day may include:

  • a better appreciation of arguments and explanations surrounding the more significant issues, for those seeking to make further submissions to assist formulation of an Australian response in February 2008; and
  • a paper that covers points raised from all sides.

Preliminary OO XML Symposium programme
(comments welcome - subject to change)

1. Technical session

The Technical Session will present technical and practical considerations when looking at implementing OOXML. It will include experts in this space, government, user and industry perspectives, and the top technical concerns raised in comments submitted through the ISO process in the last year, both from Australia and New Zealand, and also internationally. There will be time for open discussion, and attendees are welcome to participate fully.

0830 - Breakfast
0900 - Introductory expert commentary
0930 - Expert Commentary 2
1000 - Government and user perspectives
1030 - 20 mins coffee break
1050 - Facilitated discussion - top 10 issues raised from the global comments about OOXML; short position statements from key players?
1250 - Wrap up and thanks
1300 - Finish and Lunch

2. Legal Session

The Legal Session will be focussed on the proponent's 'covenant not to sue' (later recast in the form of a promise) in relation to a range of potential litigation topics, particularly intellectual property such as copyrights entitlements; its practical effectiveness as a protection removing the need for a range of implementers to seek further expensive legal risk management advice; and other issues such as patents.

1400 - Expert commentary 1
1430 - Expert commentary2
1500 - Facilitated discussion - covenant not to sue etc.
1540 - 20 mins coffee break
1600 - Facilitated discussion - solutions, other issues?
1650 - Wrap up and thanks

Contact feedback [at] to express interest in one or both sessions, and reserve a place.

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Internet domain name trademarks and cybersquatting

UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre in assocation with the Hon Neil Brown QC, Adjunct Professor of Law at Murdoch University invite you to a free seminar in the 2007 Cyberspace Law and Policy Series:

Erik Wilbers
Topic: WIPO's Internet domain name arbitration process: Can it meet the challenges of the trademark and the cybersquatter?
Speaker: Erik Wilbers, Acting Director of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center in Geneva.

Date: Wednesday 5 December 2007

Time: 1:00 to 2:00 pm, including time for questions

Venue: Room 162, level 1, New Faculty of Law building , UNSW lower campus (near Roundhouse), Kensington, Sydney

Map: (reference F8)


Trademark owners expect that their trademarks will be protected from what they regard as the unprincipled attempts of others to trade on their good name; others – not only "cybersquatters" in the strict meaning of the word – say that the internet should be free from restrictions.

Is this conflict just a piece of special pleading? How is this conflict resolved? Is the UDRP process adequate to resolve it? These and other questions will be tackled by the man who should know the answers – Erik Wilbers."

About the Speaker:

Mr Erik Wilbers is the Acting Director and the Head of the Domain Name Dispute Resolution Section of the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva, Switzerland. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is an international provider of non-profit services for the out-of-court resolution of commercial disputes, in particular those arising out of technology and intellectual property transactions.

At the WIPO Center, Mr. Wilbers oversees the Center’s provision of resources to intellectual property stakeholders to help them achieve time and cost effectiveness in dispute resolution. Reflecting the growing importance of intellectual property, the Center manages an increasing number of arbitration and mediation cases filed by parties from different jurisdictions. The Center’s role ranges from the provision of clause advice to the appointment of appropriate neutrals and the safeguarding of the effiency of the proceedings.

WIPO cases mostly concern contractual disputes (e.g. patent and software licenses, trademark coexistence agreements, distribution agreements for pharmaceutical products and research and development agreements), but also include non-contractual disputes, for example in relation to patent infringement.


Entry is free, no need to book.
If you are coming from off campus, please RSVP

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Proposal for international standard law for free software

Maureen O'SullivanMaureen O'Sullivan from the National University of Ireland will give a free talk in Sydney on 25 July 2007 about a proposal for international standard law for free software. The previous seminar on digital evidence was well worth attending.
UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre and Linux Australia invite you to a free seminar one of the 2007 Cyberspace Law and Policy Series
Topic: The Democratic Deficit in Copyright Law: A Legislative Proposal
Speaker: Maureen O'Sullivan, Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway
Date: Wednesday 25 July 2007
Time: 1:00 to 2:00 pm, including time for questions

Venue: Room 101, first floor, Faculty of Law building, UNSW lower campus (near Roundhouse), Kensington, Sydney, Map

Abstract: This talk by visiting international IP researcher Maureen O'Sullivan considers issues in Free/Libre and/or Open Source Software (FLOSS) licensing, particularly as manifest in the recently finalised GPL v3 and their impact on Spanish-speaking or civil code countries, and her proposal for an international standard law to help free software licenses work the same in all users' countries.

About the Speaker: Maureen O'Sullivan is a lecturer in law, based at National University of Ireland, Galway. Maureen's research and teaching interests span intellectual property in the digital age, including FLOSS and Creative Commons licensing, patents and genetically modified organisms, Information Society policy making, especially in Spain and Latin America, and theoretical approaches to intellectual property.

Bookings: Entry is free, no need to book. If you are coming from off campus please RSVP to feedback [at]

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

When Everything is Digital

The white paper "Coping when everything is digital? Digital Documents and Issues in Document Retention" by Julian Gillespie, Patrick Fair, Adrian Lawrence and David Vaile (Cyberspace Law and Policy Center, UNSW 2004), provides a good introduction. It is addressed to legal departments, finance, records managers, IT, corporate executives and others in organisations. But it suffers from having been written by lawyers from a legal point of view and misses the point of having digital documents: making organisations more efficient.

The white papers asks if the organisation has a policy on retention and destruction of digital documents. But apart from government agencies, many organisations are unlikely to have a policy on paper records, let alone electronic ones. If the organisation has a policy for any sort of documents, that is a good first step.

The authors cite research from the USA claiming that most documents are now digital and 70% are never printed. Those dealing with increasing paper use in offices are probably wishing the figure was higher. ;-)

Australian and US court cases involving electronic documents are cited. The authors warn of the legal risks in deleting records which should have been retained and argue for a methodological approach. They give examples of digital documents: imaged versions of paper documents, word processing files, spreadsheets, presentations, email, databases, logs of networks and web access, financial transaction records and web pages.

While giving a good overview of the issues, the authors failed to give the obvious solution until near the end of the paper (on page 41 of 55): implement the relevant standards and guidelines. Also there does not appear to be any mention of the guidelines applying to state and federal government agencies. Perhaps the authors feel that if they mentioned the standards at the beginning, the reader would wonder why a 55 page white paper was required at all (as do I).

The authors introduce the concept of "meta data" by using the example of electronic mail messages. This is a good approach as, unlike other electronic documents, the metadata for email messages is usually visible in the header. The authors point out where to find dates, times and addresses in message headers. Curiously the don't point out the subject, which is an important metadata item. Instead they emphasize the spam warning inserted in the header by spam detection software and discuss "suspicious" email. While this is an important topic it is not relevant to document retention. Similarly the disclaimers inserted in messages are mentioned and makes the valid, but irrelevant, point that these disclaimers are untested in Australian law.

The authors discuss backups and archives of digital documents. As I discovered when helping write Commonwealth government guidelines on electronic documents, IT people use the term "archive" and "backup" interchangeably. Records managers and archivists use "archive" in a different sense. The authors here characterize backups as being to guard against disk failure and archives as being for perpetuity . But then they go on to say that archives are likely to be available for months or years, which a long way from "perpetuity" and falls within what might be considered a backup. The distinction between backups and archives is not a useful one and the authors should have avoided the issue.

The more important point, only made in a couple of sentences, is that an old file may not be readable due to the software which created it being no longer available. The authors mention PDF-A (a version of PDF intended for archives) and XML. This is an important point needing more analysis. Recent progress on XML based standards and on their adoption by the National Archives of Australia shows promise for long term access.

The authors go on to detail obligations for keeping documents. Unfortunately this is from a legalistic point of view. The emphasis is on what you have to keep when there is litigation. This gives a very skewed view of why an organisation would keep documents. Organisations should be keeping documents in order to support their operations. Document keeping should be within what the law requires and allows, but that should not be the primary reason.

The paper ends by discussing document management systems. Unfortunately these standards are not widely used, outside large companies and government. Even in organisations with such systems, many of the day-to-day documents are outside the system in email, word processors and the like.

The current approach to electronic document management is not working, and while well meaning "Coping when everything is digital? Digital Documents and Issues in Document Retention" does not really help. It says things we already knew and probably is only be read by people who already knew.

After some years discussing this issue, and having helped write well intentioned, earnest documents on the need for e-document management (which were completely ignored), I believe a different approach is required. As an IT professional when faced with a problem of people not doing what is needed, I try to automate the problem out of existence; that approach is needed for e-document management.

With a related issue, accessible web design for the disabled, for some years I attempted to interest executives and organisations. Like document management there are clear guidelines and laws requiring its use and organisations have even been fined for non-compliance. But most people are just not interested. Instead I decided to train the people who write the web software to implement the standards. That way the standards would be build into the web systems. People using the web tools would be complying with the guidelines without knowing it. This has proved much more successful.

The same approach can be applied to digital document management. Those designing document systems can be trained to build the needed management systems into the software.

Previously this would have been difficult to do as most of the document creation would have been with large monolithic packages with their own binary proprietary formats and primitive document management systems (such as Microsoft Office). However, web based systems are being increasingly used. These systems are easier to modify, to integrate with records management systems, are more likely to use standards and can be easily deployed across an organisation.

Also packages using standard formats, such as OpenOffice.Org are available to use in place of Microsoft Office, or to use to convert Microsoft Office files to standard formats. Microsoft are also, at last, is making efforts to comply with document standards.

As a result there may be less need to explain electronic document management to lawyers and executives. It will be built into the software and those using it will be prompted for their record management policies so the software can implement them. If the needed software is available free as open source, it will be difficult for any executive to argue against its use.

This may sound unlikely, but it has already been successfully implemented in at least one area: academic electronic publishing. The OJS system implements XML based metadata standards allow easy export of document records and backup of publications. The software is free open source and can be downloaded and installed. During configuration the user is asked if they want metadata to be exported and if they want the publications available in a stand archive format. The user just has to click a few buttons fort this to happen. I did this for the ACS Digital Library and the papers in the library are now available world wide, including in the Arrow Discovery Service.

Obviously, keeping internal organisation documents in a secure archive will be more difficult that open access academic papers intended for unlimited distribution. But the same concepts can be applied. Standard formats and interfaces can be implemented in the tools used.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Digital evidence for lawyers and IT professionals

New UNSW Law Building
On Friday I attended the first LawTechTalk seminar at UNSW:

The Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre at UNSW provides a focus for research, public interest advocacy and education on issues of law and policy concerning digital transactions in cyberspace. It is a Centre of the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"Digital evidence: Issues for lawyers, judges and scholars, and what's coming over the horizon... Stephen Mason, Director of the Digital Evidence Research Programme, British
Institute of International and Comparative Law ... "
Stephen's work on e-evidence is equally applicable to IT professionals as lawyers. You can download the slides of the presentation and some of his papers from the event announcement.

This article briefly outlines the case law in relation to manuscript signatures in England and Wales, putting the concept of manuscript signatures into historical perspective from the point of view of the common law. A short outline of the international framework for electronic signatures will follow, and consideration will be given to the three main concepts adopted by politicians in the form of legislation from across the world. The forms of electronic will be set out, and a number of practical and evidential issues will be taken into account. Relevant case law is considered throughout the article.
From Electronic Signatures in Practice, Stephen Mason, Journal of High Technology Law (JHTL), Volume VI: 2006
Dr Alathea Foster is alleged to have attacked Julie Simpson after discovering a series of emails on her husband John Foster's computer. She is also said to have recounted her state of mind in diary entries which were today read out to the court. ...

From E-mail trail that led wife to husband's lover, Lewis Smith for Times Online, April 24, 2006

A woman who stabbed her husband's ex-lover 17 times has been cleared of attempted murder but jailed for causing grievous bodily harm.

Alethea Foster, 61, of Bromley, south London, stabbed Cambridge University student Julie Simpson when she learned of their 15-year affair via e-mails. ...
From Wife jailed for love rival attack, BBC, 5 May 2006

The e-Signature Law Journal brings news, articles, legal developments and case reports to academics, practitioners and the industry in relation to electronic signatures from across the world. The journal also seeks to include reports on technical advances, book reviews and a calendar of events and conferences.
From e-Signature Law Journal

One quibble I have is over the use of the term "electronic signature". The digital signature" uses a cryptographic process, whereas an "electronic signature" is just about any sort of mark in an electronic document.

A quick web search shows that the term "digital signature" is four times as common as "electronic signature". But there is so much room for confusion between the two it might be better to drop the term "electronic signature" and just call them "signatures". If it is an electronic document you can infer that some sot of electronic signature is meant. The more specific term "digital signature" could continue to be used to indicate the cryptographic sort. In any case the definition of a "signature" is not as universal and fixed as might be expected.

Perhaps there will be a meeting of minds between lawyers, records managers and IT people on digital evidence. The IT people have been approaching the same issues from the point of view of implementing record management systems and the standards they are required to comply with. This will likely meet the lawyers as well.

It looks like the same "if it prints like a document, it is an e-document" applies in the USA and the UK as well as in Australian law.

I do expert witness work for lawyers on IT matters and had a recent electronic evidence is done. Another area of e-evidence is podcasting.

ps: One problem is that Stephen's British Institute of International and Comparative Law needs to fix their fellows page, as the link to his details is broken. Also UNSW needs a simpler map to find their new law building.

The building boasts two "Harvard style lecture theatres". These are horseshoe shaped rooms like miniature parliamentary debating chamber. Perhaps this is why so many lawyers feel at home in politics. ;-)

pps: I was little worried when Stephen mentioned that he used to be in bomb disposal. I thought this might be a reference to my carrying into ten seminar a bloc of what looked like 10kg of plastic explosive (it was actually pottery clay, but that is another story).