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The Indiana Law Library Blog

The Politics of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities have been a cause of anxiety for governments, businesses, and individuals for over a decade. With an estimated 85 to 90 percent of the nation’s computer networks owned and managed by the private sector, resolving this concern has become an issue of upmost importance for Congress. In the first session of the 112th Congress alone, more than 40 bills, resolutions with provisions, and revisions to current laws were proposed. Despite this focused attention, however, none have yet become a law. This impasse occurs despite all parties concerned agreeing that action is needed because there is “disagreement over the role of federal regulations in defending privately owned computer networks, concerns about the privacy and civil liberties ramifications of any bills, and even election year politics.”

If you are interested in researching cybersecurity, I recommend that you first turn to the CRS report,  “Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources” (also available at Open CRS).  This is an excellent source that identifies relevant legislation, hearings from the 112th Congress, news stories, Executive Orders and Presidential Directives, data and statistics, and reports from both Congressional Research Service and other organizations. To find the full text of these documents there are a number of resources available to you, including FDsys, Thomas and ProQuest Congressional; or you can contact a reference librarian for assistance.

If you wish to follow cybersecurity in the news, you might want to follow the New York Times Topic: Computer Security (Cybersecurity), Homeland Security News Wire: Cybersecurity, or CQ.com.

By Jen Kulka (Library Intern & Guest Blogger)

When is a Grey Mare not a Grey Mare? And Other Tidbits from English Legal History

A patron recently requested information about a 1726 English case involving an action for recovery of a wager. The parties were in agreement that the plaintiff’s “grey mare” outran the defendant’s “bay mare,” but the plaintiff (an “eminent distiller”) was nonsuited anyway because he could not prove that the “grey mare” in the race was the one originally matched. Apparently he pulled a switcheroo, and substituted a different horse with “a far better share of heels.” As more than 500 £ were wagered on each side, it is not surprising that the newspaper account of the case reported that “the dispute has been the subject of conversation for these two years past at most public meetings of gentlemen sportsmen.”

The patron wished to know whether there might be an official report of the decision, but unfortunately did not know the names of the parties or even the court in which the cause was heard. With only a hint that the court sat at Guildhall, we could surmise that it was the Lord Mayor’s Court (which still exists!), and at least some of that court’s decisions did find their way into the English Reports. But how to find the case without party names?

Fortunately, the English Reports, Full Reprint, is included in HeinOnline. This database permits the user to search for terms in the decision, such as “grey mare,” “bay mare,” and “wager.” Unfortunately, a search for these keywords retrieved nothing. Likewise a search in the Lexis English case law file containing decisions going back to 1561. So it appears that no report was made in any of the so-called nominative reports that comprised the ‘official’ world of case reporting in 18th century England.

Continuing on the subject of online reports of older English case law, those with a historical bent of mind might want to look at the proceedings of the Old Bailey, a free online database of English criminal cases spanning the period 1674-1913. This is an absolutely amazing collection of 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court, described as “[a] fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published.” Just for fun, I searched for cases involving grey mares, and in fact found 10 cases in which such horses were stolen. Perhaps one was the ringer used to dupe the “gentlemen sportsmen;” if so, it profited its seller no more than the “eminent distiller” who could not collect his gambling debt.

Perhaps it is fitting (and maybe even ironic) that the Old Bailey database is funded by the English National Lottery.

Tracking nuclear inspections

On Wednesday, May 23, diplomats from the United States and five other global powers met their Iranian counterparts in Baghdad to continue negotiations aimed at clearing the way for the international community gradually to lift economic sanctions in return for Iran’s agreement to permit independent verification of the non-military nature of its nuclear power program. Any such independent verification would be carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an independent agency within the United Nations family.

For those seeking detailed information about the IAEA and its verification practices, the agency’s web site provides a wealth of information about its history, organization, and legal framework. The agency was founded in 1957 as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization. The secretariat is headquartered in Vienna, with research centers at various other locations around the world, and is run by a staff of 2300. As an independent international agency, the IAEA’s relationship to the United Nations is regulated by its statute and special agreement with the parent body. Its policy-making bodies include the General Conference of Member States (currently 154) and a Board of Governors, composed of 35 states chosen by the General Conference.
Nuclear inspections are carried out by the Department of Safeguards. According to the Department’s web page, the safeguards system “comprises an extensive set of technical measures by which the IAEA Secretariat independently verifies the correctness and the completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear material and activities.” These safeguards include procedures undertaken at sites declared by states to contain nuclear material, as well as “strengthened” procedures designed to permit the IAEA to draw conclusions “about the non-diversion of declared nuclear material and the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in that State.” Interestingly, the “strengthened” measures are carried out on the basis of a model Additional Protocol to existing safeguards agreements, which not all member states (including Iran) have ratified. Hence authority for any such strengthened procedures in the current situation will have to be the product of negotiation.
Applicable legal texts, a Safeguards Factsheet, and links to a web page dedicated to the IAEA’s relationship with Iran are available at the Department of Safeguards web site.

New Law Library YouTube Channel

The Law Library just started its own YouTube channel!  We hope to bring you many educational and entertaining videos in the future.  For our first video, we present an infomercial for the Law Library.  Go check it out!  Thanks to the students and library staff who made this possible.

Fun with Gov Info: Popular Baby Names

Find out the most popular baby names of 2011 (courtesy of U.S. Social Security Administration).

You can search the popularity of names dating back to 1880. You can also look up popular names by birth year, decade, or state; popular names for twins; and popular names in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

H.T.: USA.gov

Hot Topic: Student Loan Interest Rate Reduction

Direct Stafford Loans, from the U.S. Department of Education’s William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, provide loans to undergraduates to help pay for their education. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 has resulted in the interest rates on these loans to being lowered steadily over the last four years from 6.0% to 3.4%. On July 1, however, these interest rates are set to spike, doubling to 6.8%.

According to the White House website, this change will affect over seven million students, who will have to pay an extra $1,000 a year if no action is taken in Congress to prevent the rise before July. Preventing this change, however, comes at a cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost $6 billion to extend the current interest rates for one year. While Democrats and Republicans both agree it is important to keep student loan interests rates low, they are currently at odds with each other on how to pay for it. On May 8, Senate voted against the first attempt to freeze rates. It was a Democratic proposal that suggested an offset could be achieved ending the tax break for the wealthy. Republicans are countering this idea with their own proposition of attaining the money by eliminating a public health fund created by President Obama’s national health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub.L. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119, codified as amended at scattered sections of the Internal Revenue Code and in 42 U.S.C.)

If you are interested in tracking the progress of this issue, I suggest you follow the development of both the House and Senate bills (H.R. 4628, S. 2343). You can do this through the following legislative databases:

Having the history of a bill will also inform you of any members of Congress who have given testimony or a floor statement on the issue, which you can then find in the Congressional Record, which is available through ProQuest Congressional, CQ.com, and Thomas.

By Jen Kulka (Library Intern & Guest Blogger)

European Court of Justice decisions added to HeinOnline

The Court of Justice of the European Union is the court of general jurisdiction that interprets European Union law for all the member states of the E.U. For a very basic description of the Court’s composition, jurisdiction, and procedures, one should view its page at the European Union’s Europa web site. HeinOnline recently added decisions of the European Court of Justice to its Foreign and International Law Resources Database. Decisions of the E.C.J., dating back to its foundation in 1954, are already available at Curia, the Court’s own web site, as well as in both Lexis and WestLaw. However, the addition of its decisions to HeinOnline provides yet another access point to the jurisprudence of this important court, via HeinOnline’s own search interface.
The E.C.J. decisions on HeinOnline are a complete collection of the European Court Reports through 2008. More recent decisions are available in Lexis and WestLaw, and documentation from pending decisions is available through Curia. However, you should bear in mind that not all decisions of the Court are published in the European Court Reports. For example, since 2004 the E.C.R. typically have not included orders, decisions rendered by three-judge panels in non-preliminary matters, and five-judge decisions lacking an Advocate General’s Opinion (because not precedent-setting).

Documents in the Charles Taylor Trial Available on the Web

On April 26th, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on all counts of an 11-count indictment for aiding and abetting rebels in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s long civil war. The trial was historically significant as the first in which a head of state was convicted by an international tribunal.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established in 2002 through an agreement between the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone. Its purpose is to try those responsible for serious violations of humanitarian law and the law of Sierra Leone committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since the end of 1996. Charles Taylor is the most widely known defendant, but 13 individuals were in fact indicted in 2003, with eight trials now complete through the appellate phase. Two of the original indictments were withdrawn due to the deaths of the accused, and Taylor’s trial is now in the appellate phase at the Hague. Thus, the Special Court is nearing completion of its mandate.

For those interested in the activities of the Special Court, a great deal of documentation is available at the Court’s web site, including a transcript of the trial judgment in the Taylor case. Trial and Appeals Chamber decisions are also available for the eight cases now completed. In addition, there is a complete collection of important court documents, such as rules of procedure and evidence, the Special Court Agreement, and rules of detention, as well as annual reports of the Court and various practice directives and directions issued in the course of the Court’s proceedings.

Should You Write a Social Media Will?

Courtesy of USA.gov:

Social media is a part of daily life, but what happens to the online content that you created once you die?

If you have social media profiles set up online, you should create a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled.

Learn how to create a social media will.