Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Do Not Track" for the Internet?

Whatever your opinion on the importance of Internet privacy, you should know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report last week that will be an essential tool in charting the future of American consumer privacy policy. The report, "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers," includes a proposal to develop a national "Do Not Track" tool for Internet users. The FTC has asked for comments, and business, consumers, and Congress are weighing in. In an Information Today feature article, columnist George Pike discusses pros, cons, differences from the "Do Not Call" registry concept, and early reaction to the proposal in Congress, where a House subcommittee hearing on the issue was also held last week.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, December 10, 2010

Study Break

In my prowls of the Library, I see a lot of hard studying students. My research shows that every now and again your brain needs a break. So, in the interests of science, and helping you out on exams, here are a couple of suggestions for a quick study break.

1. Hangman online - we all played Hangman as kittens, so here's my choice for online hangman, complete with category choices (which kind of defeats the purpose imho)

2. Crossword Puzzles online - Boatload Puzzles lets you complete the puzzle online, thus saving on paper. For the hardcore puzzler, the Classic Puzzle from the New York Times

3. Sudoku - courtesy of the New York Times puzzles and games page

And, so that I can still keep my day job, if your idea of a study break is to peruse the hot topics in the news, check out Legislative Documents for the Obama Tax Compromise Bill . Hat tip to TaxProfBlog .

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Blawg 100 Voting

Voting is open in ABA Journal's Blawg 100. ABA Journal has named the best legal blogs of 2010, the voting is to decide which of those are the best.

Students, yes, people really do read blogs about practicing law. Lots of them. In addition to being a good forum for academic communication, blogs are also a good way for attorneys to keep abreast of developments in a particular area of law, or just a good way for attorneys to commiserate.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Texas Judge To Hold Hearing On Constitutionality Of Death Penalty

In an unusual hearing, a judge from a state that is among the nation’s leaders in executing Death Row inmates is holding a hearing on the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty statute. Read more about it here.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Library of Congress: Legal Blawg Archive

Legal blogs, or blawgs, "have increasingly become vehicles for legal scholars, practitioners, and observers from across the globe to share information on developments in various areas of law, as well as opinions as to how good or bad those developments are."

"The Law Library of Congress has been working since 2007 to archive monthly entries for blawgs such as these, so that the legal events addressed in the blawgs of today may be studied many years from now. This collection is called the Legal Blawg Archive." The Legal Blawg Archive provides the actual captured images for 130 blawgs across 19 subjects.

Thanks to Christine Sellers for her informative post!
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, December 06, 2010

Google Instant & Legal Search

What does Google instant mean for legal search? This is a question that Steve Matthews pondered recently. He has written and made available some of the issues that he thinks are important. As we have learned in so many online innovations - other activities as well - we do our best to make a service better but then there are the results that just were not anticipated. We are fortunate that there are knowledge people who do take the time to think about these questions.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Treaty Citations -- Sometimes They Don't Exist as Expected

A recent opinion article in The New York Times describes how we can expect the United States to rely more on treaty-like agreements than on actual treaties in the future. In such agreements, the U.S. agrees to try wholeheartedly to pass legislation that achieves the goals of the agreement, rather than signing a treaty and sending it to the Senate for ratification, because treaty ratification requires 67 votes in the Senate and legislation only requires 60 votes (with the modern-day filibuster).

Variations of this have been done in the past, even with what seem to be major multilateral treaties. For Instance, the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed by the U.S., but never ratified by the Senate, though it is generally accepted as binding on the U.S.

The main source people cite to for recent treaties to which the U.S. is a party is TIAS, the Treaties and Other International Acts Series. However, TIAS only publishes treaties that have been ratified by the Senate (the same is true for the older United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) and Treaties in Force).

So, if you are looking for an official citation to a treaty that the U.S. signed, make sure that the U.S. actually ratified the treaty before tearing your hair out. The treaty may not have been ratified, even if the U.S. has been following the treaty as though it was. For non-ratified treaties, find a citation in a non-U.S. source, like the United Nations Treaty Series (Hein link).

Note: An increasingly popular type of non-treaty agreement for the U.S. is the Executive Agreement, which requires no Senate approval. But Executive Agreements should not be as confusing as major multilateral treaties that the U.S. appears to follow, but were never ratified.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat