For those who were not able to attend the February Section Council Meeting, here is the handout on metadata, prepared and distributed by Chris Evans and Dan Tysver. It's a very helpful outline, which will be followed by a substantive article. Many thanks to Dan and Chris.
The proposed amendment will be voted upon at the next section council meeting.
MSBA Computer &
Technology Law Section
Approved by the Assembly 11/21/87 Amended 9/11/92, 9/10/93, 12/03/04, 6/16/06 and _/ _/07
ARTICLE I. Name and Purpose
1. This section of the Minnesota
State Bar Association shall be known as the Computer & Technology
Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, hereinafter “Section”.
2. The purpose of the Section shall
be dedicated to the field of computer and technology law and
related areas of the law to enhance the skills of Minnesota lawyers practicing
in the area, and interalia, by serving as a liaison with other parts of
the Bar Association and the public on computer law-related issues and
With all this recent talk here of wikis, I thought I'd bring up a
relevant topic. I've been a big fan of
Wikipedia, and find it a good first stop in researching a topic. I have even contributed content to more than
a few topics there. At the same time I
realize that any open-source compilation of data is bound to have its flaws and
shortcomings. I view Wiki as a first
stop: a place to get the general grasp on a topic, then branch out to the
primary sources. But there are millions
of people who view Wikipedia as The Authority, which can lead to problems any
time misinformation is disseminated there.
It seems like we hear about large data thefts or losses every other day, so it is with relative comfort that the Eighth Circuit has upheld the conviction and eight-year sentence of a man who stole 1 billion records from a Little Rock database. Coverage here. Opinion here. While the data thieves seem to be winning the war, we aren't without small victories in the skirmishes.
We have discussed metadata quite a bit lately -- both in our meetings and in this blog, so we hesitate to continue coverage. That said, this is an important enough (and muddy enough) topic to warrant additional discussion.
Today, Law.com has a good article discussing metadata -- not in the context of lawyer correspondence, but discussing whether (and when) production should move from the tried-and-true paper, TIFF, and image-PDF productions into native productions. This has particular relevance in light of the new Federal Rules, which make the default production method for electronically stored information ("ESI") to be "in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or
in a form or forms that are reasonably usable." Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(ii). Of course, this is just another way of saying files in their native format, with all its juicy metadata. So it would appear that unless a party specifies another format (e.g., paper or TIFF), parties will be required to turn over a treasure trove of metadata -- warts and all.
A Connecticut substitute teacher has been convicted of exposing her students to pornographic pop-ups and now faces a possible 40-year sentence. The teacher claims that she is technophobic and did not know how to shut off the pop-ups. Coverage in the NY Times and Norwich Bulletin. Other coverage at The Register.
Our tech-savvy members may agree that this potential criminal sanction -- for what appears to be a typical technophobic response (throw up hands and run for help) -- seems particularly harsh. Has Connecticut created a new offense: criminal computing negligence?
Section member Chip Brink pointed out a good, recent ABA article regarding the use of wikis in the legal profession. More and more practitioners are using the Web as a jumping-off point before engaging in more traditional (and more expensive) legal research, and the use of Wikis to reflect the ever-changing nature of the law seems perfectly suited to our practice. Some of the popular wikis noted in the article are Wex (Cornell), WikiLaw (US-centric), and Jurispedia (worldwide).
In what I have read, Wex and WikiLaw are relatively young, but may be useful -- especially as their user base expands. It is important to note that after only a few years of existance, Wikipedia has thousands of editors hard at work to make it one of the most authoritative sources for current, up-to-the-minute information. Here's hoping the legal wikis are as successful.
Minnesota CLE is hosting a presentation on Ethics and Computer Security, which will be transmitted via webcast. This may be of interest to our Section's members who are solo or small-practice attorneys -- either in the Metro area or in Greater Minnesota. It will cover some of the areas discussed at our Section Council meetings. Following is the MSBA's course description:
Lawyers should not only understand the advantages of technology, but should also
be attentive to its risks. Computer security is an essential part of an
attorney’s ethical obligations to protect client confidences and client
property. This seminar will discuss how to approach computer security in your
law practice, and how much security is enough. We'll look at issues such as:
Assessing your office's security vulnerabilities to protect client data and
Protecting your identity while surfing
Covering your tracks
Understanding encryption, digital signatures and PKI
Secure financial transactions
Preventing intruder attacks
This is essential information attorneys need to
know to meet their obligations under Rule 1.6 and Rule 1.15 of the Minnesota
Rules of Professional Conduct!
Presented by Lewis S. Eisen, The
Professional Education Group, Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.