This course gives me another pespective view of the law — the computer application to law.  Very often, we use computer technology everyday.  But we seldom consider the combination of computer technology and law.  It is the course which combined law with computer technology which intend to make use of the computer technology to make the legal process more effective and efficient.  The use of internet, the use of expert system to solve problem, the eganges software, the use of email as communication channel etc.  They all helps the legal environment to improve.  As the technology is keep improving, it is expected that more advanced software or technology can be used.  It will be more popular for the use of video conferencing in the court room.  Communication between different places in different countries will not be a matter.  It is also not surprising in the future that the trial either criminal or civil can be held through the internet, with both the parties and the judges sitting at their own home in front of the computers.   What more can be occured with the help of the technology? We will wait and see ~~

Guest speaker — Eganges

October 30, 2006

The product of eganges is very impressive.  It can have many different applications.  For example, it can be used in law lectures for educational purposes.  In criminal law class, it can be used to show that what element is necessary to prove in order to judge a person guilty.  As the standard of prove in criminal law is beyond reasonable doubt, every elements is required to be proven true.  Eganges mind map is helpful to students understanding all the elements which need to be proved.

Other applications include training and guidance of employees.  Small administrative jobs can also be mapped.

A Google Inc. employee mistakenly posted information to an official Google blog that she had intended to publish in her personal blog — the latest blogging faux pas for the search engine giant.On Tuesday, two postings about skull-shaped candies appeared on Blogger Buzz, the official blog of this Google blog publishing service. Their topic and informal tone immediately led readers to wonder about their legitimacy.

Google removed the postings quickly after they were published, a Google spokeswoman said via e-mail on Wednesday. The employee who published the postings by mistake is a regular contributor to Blogger Buzz, the spokeswoman wrote.

Last week, Blogger suffered an outage that kept both Blogger.com and the Blogspot hosting service off-line for two hours. That kept the many official Google blogs that are hosted on the Blogger platform off-line. Google later said a “network malfunction” caused the outage.

Earlier this month, a hacker broke into Google’s main official blog, which is hosted on Blogger, and posted a false message saying that the company had decided to cancel a joint click-to-call advertising project with eBay Inc.

Google patched the hole and removed the posting from the so-called Google Blog, but the intruder’s message was widely noticed and triggered significant speculation and confusion among Google observers.

In March, Google staffers deleted the Google Blog by mistake and someone unaffiliated with the company briefly took control of the Web address.

Like all companies that store sensitive data from consumers and organizations, Google is held to a high standard when it comes to mistakes like these. Displays of carelessness or security vulnerabilities that affect Google’s services undermine users’ trust, critics say.

Next year the Buys legal firm will find out just how popular or unpopular its lawyers actually are, when it introduces robotic rivals to its human staff. The company is developing three robots, Stacy, Dave and Nathan, to see if artificial intelligence can be as successful as the real thing. The robots will provide online legal opinions and advice to its customers early next year, says Reinhardt Buys. … According to AI Expert Systems at the University of Texas, artificial intelligence (AI) technology will let computers autonomously reason with the law to draw legal conclusions. The head of that team, Selmer Bringsjort, says: ‘Our intuition is that people won’t mind in the least if their lawyers are empowered by artificial colleagues — quite the contrary, if they are the beneficiaries of quicker turnaround time, lower legal fees and higher quality work

Lawyer or Computer

October 19, 2006

Given the choice, who would you rather trust to safeguard your future: a bloodsucking lawyer or a cold, calculating computer? Granted, it’s not much of a choice, since neither lawyers nor computers are renowned for their compassion. But it is a choice that you may well encounter in the not-too-distant future, as software based on ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) starts to dispense legal advice. Instead of paying a lawyer by the hour, you will have the option of consulting intelligent legal services via the web. While this might sound outlandish, experts believe that the advent of smart software capable of giving good, solid legal advice could revolutionise the legal profession. … What makes both these programs so smart is that they do more than just follow legal rules. Both tasks involve looking back through past cases and drawing inferences from them about how the courts are likely to view a new case. To do this, the programs use a combination of two common AI techniques: expert systems and machine learning. Smart software has the potential to make legal advice more readily available, unnecessary court battles less frequent, and rulings more consistent.

A new website designed to provide online information and services for civil appeals has been unveiled by the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) in the UK.

Features of the new website include an interactive guide to routes of appeal and links to the most recent Court judgements and to the British and Irish Legal Information Institute site. Lists of leading cases can also be found on the website, along with a link to the text of the judgements. Court fees and time frames for making civil appeals are explained and an electronic Court list giving up-to-date listing arrangements is expected to be added shortly.

The website, designed for use by parties, lawyers, journalists, law students and interested members of the public, can be found at http://www.civilappeals.gov.uk.

A Washington law firm has sued IBM, claiming that the computing giant is responsible for a 2005 attack on its e-mail server.

Butera & Andrews claims that an unknown IBM employee attempted to attack its e-mail server in November of last year, shortly after the law firm discovered that its computer had been taken over by an unknown attacker. Security investigators traced the source of the attack to a computer within IBM’s Cornwallis Road facility in Durham, N.C., the law firm alleges.

The lawsuit was filed April 7 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Washington.

An analysis of computer logs revealed “over 42,000” attempts by IBM-controlled machines to attack Butera & Andrews servers during 2005, the lawsuit claims.

Butera & Andrews is asking the court to force IBM to disclose information related to the attacks, and to award it damages, including the $61,000 it spent investigating the matter.

IBM has asked for the case to be dismissed, saying that Butera & Andrews “alleges no facts to justify its supposition that its systems were attacked by an IBM employee, as opposed to a computer hacker.”

The law firm may have a hard time proving that IBM is to blame for this attack, according to a computer security expert.

Though Butera & Andrews may have traced their attack to an IP address controlled by IBM [170.224.68.57, according to court filings], that address may have been spoofed, or IBM’s servers themselves may have been taken over by outside attackers, said Russ Cooper, a senior information security analyst at Cybertrust Inc. “There are lots of possibilities.”

Butera & Andrews senior partner James Butera declined to comment on the matter, except to point out that IBM had not denied that its computers were involved in the attack.

IBM representatives were not immediately available to comment for this story.

Freedom of speech online is under its fiercest threats in a decade because of two proposals in the U.S. Congress, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said.”Free speech online is facing some of its most serious assaults” since the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was passed in late 1998, said Leslie Harris, executive director of CDT, a civil liberties advocacy group. One of those proposals would require schools and libraries to block Internet chat and social networking tools.

The U.S. government continues to spend millions of dollars to fight successful court challenges to COPA, which required adult-themed Web sites to get proof of age before allowing Web surfers to access adult content, the CDT said Thursday.

On July 26, the House of Representatives passed the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), which would ban social networking Web sites and instant messaging programs from schools and libraries. And a provision requiring Web sites with sexually related content to include warning labels is included in a wide-ranging broadband bill awaiting action in the Senate.

Both proposals go too far in their attempts to protect children from online pornography or sexual predators, the CDT said.

The adult labeling provision, authored by Sens. Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican, and John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, requires any Web site with sexually explicit “depictions” to be labeled. Such a broad definition could mean that sites would have to include labels if they have text descriptions of sexual acts, sex education content or videos with no nudity, said John Morris, director of the CDT’s Internet Standards, Technology and Policy Project.

A site with PG-rated video including implied sex, with two people rolling around under blankets, may have to be labeled under the provision, Morris said.

Spokesmen for Burns and Kerry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments.

DOPA, sponsored by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, would give the Federal Communications Commission “remarkable power” to determine which Web sites and applications schools and libraries must block, Harris said. The legislation would require any schools or libraries receiving funding through the federal E-Rate program to block those sites or applications.

The broad labeling requirement likely violates the free speech protections in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Morris said. DOPA would add “a whole new category of social conversation” that’s restricted speech, he said.

Morris said, “99.999% of instant messages that minors participate in are healthy. And they’re perfectly legal.”

A representative of Fitzpatrick didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments.

New Zealand could set an example to other governments with its “principles and policies” on digital rights management (DRM) and managing trusted computing (TC) within government.A State Services Commission (SSC) report looks at the risks to government ownership and the use of information on behalf of citizens when protection schemes controlled by computer hardware and software vendors and other third parties are taken into account.

The SSC says it deliberately couched the report in international terms. “We hope other jurisdictions pick up on our ideas and participate in international debate on the questions [involved here],” says SSC spokesman Jason Ryan.

Local factors, such as New Zealand’s Privacy Act, have been sidelined to a “scope and interpretation” section at the end of each part of the report.

It seems New Zealand is an early mover when it comes to considering these issues.

“We have raised it in a variety of international forums, and a lot of overseas people said they’d not really considered it and that our work was quite groundbreaking,” says Ryan.

In particular, a paper on the subject, by a delegate from the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner’s Office, presented to a recent meeting of the International Working Group on Data Protection, held in Berlin, was very well received. It has since been further publicized on the working group’s Web site.

The New Zealand government expressed concern about some consequences of and DRM and the TC model as far back as 2004, when it forbade government agencies to use some of the first modules of the new security model, produced by Microsoft, for fear it could lose control over the integrity of its own information, and so imperil the privacy rights of citizens.

The SSC report still advises caution and outlines the checks that must be made before using DRM or trusted computing software.

The concern is not only about access to, and integrity of, information, but also the possibility of worm and virus infection passing undetected in a file encrypted by a third party for TC or DRM purposes.

The government’s response has been expressed as a series of principles (why things are done) and policies (what is done to implement the principles). Agencies must further decide for themselves on standards (how things are done and compliance measured).

For example, the “information availability principle” says: “For as long as it has any business or statutory requirements to do so, government must be able to use the information it owns/holds [and] provide access to its information to others, when they are entitled to access it.”

The key policy under that principle is: “Any information that is relied on for execution of public business must be free from encumbrance by externally-imposed digital restrictions, except with the informed consent of government.”

Other principles provide for confidentiality, integrity, security and information availability.

Google Inc. is actively complying with requests for data about its Orkut social networking service ordered by Brazilian courts, the company said Thursday.Google has provided Brazilian authorities with data about Orkut users in response to 30 court orders, and it plans to respond to eight more orders before their deadlines expire, said Debbie Frost, a Google spokeswoman.

Brazilian prosecutors investigating allegations of illegal activities on Orkut sued Google last month in a Brazil civil court, saying Google hadn’t responded to their requests for information.

Google defended itself, saying the prosecutors were requesting the information from Google’s Brazil subsidiary, which doesn’t operate Orkut. Google runs Orkut from the U.S., so requests have to be sent to its headquarters in Mountain View, California, it said.

Frost acknowledged that there are eight other orders mentioned in last month’s lawsuit that the company hasn’t responded to because it hasn’t received them at its Google Brazil subsidiary or its U.S. headquarters.

Google informed the court about its compliance with data requests regarding Orkut on Thursday in an official response to the lawsuit filed with the court, Frost said.

“We have and will continue to provide Brazilian authorities with information on users who abuse the Orkut service, if their requests are reasonable and follow an appropriate legal process,” she said.

Brazilian authorities reportedly are investigating a variety of allegedly illegal uses of Orkut by members in Brazil, including child pornography.

In their lawsuit, Brazilian prosecutors asked the court to fine Google and close its Brazil subsidiary for allegedly failing to provide the requested information.

Orkut, an invitation-only service, is immensely popular in Brazil.

It is obviously a tradeoff between the privacy issue and the compliance with court’s order.  So long as the court’s order is reasonable, Google should provide courts with the users’ information to the extend that the users’ privacy are also protected.