While professionals should be selective about what they put on social media, law officials should be even more wary. Recently, several judges have gotten into trouble for comments they have posted on social media. While venting about a stressful job is actually quite healthy, social media is usually not the right outlet, as some judges have come to realize.

A judge in Minnesota is facing repercussions for Facebook posts he made concerning some cases over which he presided. Judge Edward W. Bearse made several troublesome remarks, including posting “In a Felony trial now [with] State prosecuting a pimp. Cases are always difficult because the women (as in this case also) will not cooperate.” Additionally, he also referred to the Hennepin County District Court as “a zoo” and made some callous remarks after a lawyer suffered from a panic attack. After coming under fire from the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards, Judge Bearse defended himself by saying that he wasn’t aware anyone outside of his friends and family would be seeing the posts. Even if this was the case (his account is now set to private), it doesn’t make his comments any less troubling.

Incidents like this shouldn’t scare judges and other law officials away from social media, however. Social media can be used to advocate for transparency and accessibility in law, users simply need to be vigilant about how they act and how they come across online.

Article via Above the LawNovember 24, 2015

Photo: I Like Facebook via Charis Tsevis [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

With the ISIS attack in Paris still fresh in everyone’s minds, many concerns are being raised about data surveillance laws. Even though there has not been any evidence that the terrorist attacks involved the use of encrypted data, some supporters of expanding data surveillance are citing the attacks as proof that wider-ranging laws are needed. This is nothing new; the ongoing battle between privacy proponents and lawmakers supporting more surveillance is thrust into the spotlight increasingly often. Disagreements over data encryption will likely only increase, with 75% of internet interactions expected to be encrypted in the next ten to fifteen years. And while supporters of internet and data privacy have no problem with this rise in data encryption, it will cause technical problems for government agencies and law officials who need to access information to bring criminals and terrorists to justice.

A compromise has been suggested: some officials have proposed instituting laws that require tech companies to develop methods for police to obtain access to encrypted information, although this may not even be possible. Some companies such as Apple and Google cannot even access data encrypted in their own devices and services. Even if it is possible, the White House has agreed to not move forward with any legislation that would require companies to make encrypted data available whenever the police needed.

Finding a balance between protecting users’ privacy online and surveillance in the name of preserving law and order is an ongoing process and should not be determined quickly in the wake of a crisis. While there should be legal limits on the seizure of encrypted data, there must also be limits on how and what is encrypted. Determining these limits will take time.

Article via The Washington PostNovember 18, 2015

Photo: Point Cloud Data via Daniel V [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

Virtually all industries are being affected by the complexities of cybersecurity and privacy law. In addition to being somewhat confusing, aspects of cybersecurity and privacy law can change practically overnight. With this in mind, the international law firm Akerman now offers a constantly updating web-based legal knowledge platform on cybersecurity and privacy law named the Akerman Data Law Center. Developed in conjunction with Thomson Reuters and Neota Logic, the platform makes the international rules and regulations regarding cybersecurity more accessible. This tool will be useful for law firms everywhere, since cybersecurity and privacy are “likely to have accelerated growth in the law market for 2016,” as explained by Akerman’s Data Law Practice co-chair, Martin Tully. In addition to always being up-to-date, the platform can be used to research changes that only pertain to specific regions or industries. This could be extremely useful to law firms that operate in several jurisdictions and want to be able to keep track of the differences in regulations between regions.

Though access to the research compiled in the Akerman Data Law Center will require a subscription fee, Akerman states that the platform will save users up to 80% on research costs. When compared to the number of hours associates could spend accumulating the research already available within the platform, the Akerman Data Law Center is more efficient and less expensive. To make the platform even more user friendly, Akerman even allows users to contact them directly for particularly challenging questions, which will prove useful for firms that do not have the funds to consult with experts constantly.

Article via Legaltech NewsNovember 20, 2015

Photo: Chained and locked via Vivek [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Though it may seem surprising, most legal rulings, despite being public domain, are not available for free to the general public. Harvard owns the most comprehensive collection of U.S. case files, a collection second only to that of the Library of Congress. The Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow believes that “law should be free and open to all,” though. In order to make that belief a reality, Harvard has partnered with legaltech startup Ravel Law to digitize its legal library. It will take a team of seven people to carefully take apart more than 40,000 physical books of case files and scan them. After all of the case files have been digitized, Ravel Law will make the database of legal research searchable and available online for free. Additionally, the creators of Ravel Tech hope to add the ability to visually represent connections between cases in order to better visualize patterns over time.

Though anyone will be able to access these digitized case files for free, this “Free the Law” project will also help small firms that are not able to afford access to large legal research databases like LexisNexis and WestLaw. Additionally, the creators of Ravel Tech hope that other innovators and nonprofits will be interested in developing their own search and analysis tools for the case files. These tools, search functions, and visual maps that Ravel Law hopes to implement will be especially important. Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard law professor and director of the law library, explains that, “It’s one thing just to access it in a book. It’s another to be able to build relationships among cases because nobody reads the law from cover to cover starting with the first book.”

Article via BuzzfeedNovember 9, 2015

Photo: This Book via Bob AuBuchon [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

The development of the Internet of Things has spurned a great deal of innovation in the field of legaltech. One such innovation belongs to the firearm safety company Yardarm. Yardarm’s sensor can be attached to the butt of a gun and record information about how it is used: when it is unholstered and holstered, where the gun is when it is in use, etc. In this way, Yardarm can record and transmit information about the potential use of deadly force when added to police firearms.

Though the Yardarm technology would be extremely useful on its own, the company hopes to integrate these sensors with other existing technology. For example, when the sensors record a gun being unholstered, it could trigger a body camera to turn on and start recording, eliminating the possibility of officers forgetting to turn on the cameras. Additionally, because the sensor records where the gun is when it is unholstered, it can alert an officer’s colleagues to their position without their needing to receive a call for backup. Yardarm could also be used to better train officers. If, during training, an officer’s gun is recorded as being unholstered too often, this can be amended before the officer is placed on active duty.

While tech like Yardarm’s sensors and body cameras are useful, they also bring up a lot of legal questions. Many are questioning who should be able to access body cam footage, and as Yardarm is relatively new, it will most likely face similar concerns. These sensors cab be used to keep police officers safe and accountable, though, and Reginald Wilkinson of the Ohio Attorney General’s Advisory Group on Law Enforcement Training states that, “Every bullet issued to a law enforcement officer is supposed to be accounted for, in theory, at least. If there is a way to make that a certain reality, then I think we’ll see more and more of it.”

Article via Buzzfeed, November 5, 2015

Photo: Witness 1911 #3 via Theleom [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Peacebuilding can only continue if those involved are able to spread information about what they are doing reliably and efficiently. This sometimes requires resources and training that are not easily available. Internews has worked in more than 90 countries to help train individuals in journalism and media coverage and provide solutions to problems that may arise in trying to disseminate news. With this in mind, Internews has helped support the creation of many media platforms, news sites, radio stations, and more. Additionally, Internews promotes fair media legislature and policies. This allows the news platforms that they help develop to operate with integrity and fulfill their functions.

In addition to supporting the creation of news and media platforms, Internews also researches and publishes best media practices, how media can affect peacebuilding, and more. One research project in collaboration with the World Bank Institute, the Media Map Projectseeks to understand the connections between the development of media and things like economic growth, gender equality, and other factors. The Media Map Project and other research is conducted under the Internews Center for Innovation and Learningwhich is based in Washington, D.C. The Center for Innovation and Learning provides tools for communication, including free operating system software like Ubuntu.

For those interested in learning more about media development, the Center for Innovation and Learning produces blogs on the latest topics, ranging from the connections between Big Data and media to information ecosystems in Libera. To learn more about all of their projects, check out their website.

Source: Internews

Photo: Peace via Steve Rotman [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]