Date: May 3, 2002
WEBSITE AND TECHNOLOGY
FORMAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMERCE
1. The Chair reported on website developments. A "What's New" box has been added to the home page to
highlight notices and additions to the website. The monthly statistics show that there are 2,000 visits to the site per
month. There are about 1,000 unique visitors. Most of the visits are to the main pages, including the "find member"
facility. The library has relatively low usage-about 10 to 12 visits per month.
2. The Chair described the new procedure for opting in to email notification of publication of MLA documents
on the website in lieu of receiving a printed copy in the mail. It was pointed out that libraries still prefer to receive paper
copies and that there are archiving issues if paper is abandoned entirely in favor of electronic media.
3. John Paul Jones conducted a discussion on the possibility of modifying the current MLA policy with respect
to web links (now limited to maritime associations, courts and legal resources). There was discussion of other sites not
within this description that provide substantive material that might be of assistance to MLA members. John Paul Jones
will circulate on the listserve a draft proposal for expanding the current policy.
4. David B. Sharpe led a discussion concerning various enhancements that might be considered to the website,
including providing a password-protected member profile that would include that member's Committee listings with
appropriate electronic forms for requesting changes in both the directory information and Committee membership. It
was noted that putting passwords on the website has been discussed at almost every EC3 meeting. The consensus was
to defer such an enhancement due to budgetary constraints. The Chair will investigate whether a form can be placed
on the website that will be sent by email to PC Solutions in order to facilitate members' changes and corrections to their
5. David B. Sharpe reported on an e-commerce conference in London at which he presented a paper to about 70
people. His paper is available in PDF format. David noted that there is considerable interest in the role that electronics
might play in new security measures, including cargo profiling. It was also mentioned that electronic security measures
are being developed for containers involving a "black box," which would transmit an electronic message upon sensing
that the container was being tampered with in some way.
6. George Chandler reported on the proposed revisions to UCC Article 7 and developments in UNCITRAL. With
respect to UCC-7, which deals with documents of title, including bills of lading and warehouse receipts, George felt that
it would have minimum relevance to the MLA since the Pomerene Act supersedes the UCC. George noted that the
revision process with the UCC was very efficient and professional. However, rather than adopting an approach of
rebuilding from the ground up, the revision commission is merely creating electronic functional equivalents of the
existing paper system. Nevertheless, George and Ed Cattell managed to convince the revisers to change "freight" to
"cargo" when cargo was being referred to.
George reported that UNCITRAL is following a more radical rebuilding the system from the ground up
approach. "Bills of Lading" will be replaced by "transport documents" or "e-records." UNCITRAL is also dealing with
security concerns by focusing on the identification of the carrier and the shipper. There is a dispute within the working
group as to whether the UNCITRAL rules should cover only port to port or through transport. George noted that rules
covering the port to port would be of little use. George felt that UNCITRAL has a long way to go but that it was headed
in the right direction.
It was noted that the Coast Guard will be requiring identification of the beneficial owners of vessels visiting
the United States as part of enhanced security procedures.
It was also noted that the proposed Treasury regulations concerning Section 883 (the reciprocal exemption)
are consistent with the Coast Guard's approach of disclosing beneficial owners. Under the new regulations, shareholders
of shipping corporations will have to make declarations under the penalties of perjury as to the beneficial ownership
of shares, and corporations issuing bearer shares will not be eligible for exemption from the gross freight tax.
It was noted that documentation abuses in shipping have lead to problems with drugs, stowaways and hazardous
materials, and could be used in aid of terrorists. George noted that there have been cases of unscrupulous companies
disposing of hazardous waste by shipping it to an unsuspecting receiver, while hiding the shipper's true identity. There
seems to be wide understanding of these problems around the world and heightened interest in preventing them.
It was the consensus that we are likely to see soon a major worldwide shift toward transparency in the shipping
business in which the ability of shipowners, carriers and shippers to keep their identities private will be significantly
7. Possibilities for list serve services were discussed, including free services such as those provided by Yahoo and
paid services such as those provided by L-Soft. It was the consensus of the meeting that the free services were not
appropriate for MLA use due to their inability to handle attachments and embedded links, as well as their ready
accessibility to non-MLA members. It was also the consensus that most Committee work did not involve such extensive
email lists as would justify the expense of an automated list serve. The Committee Chairs are encouraged to collect
members' email addresses and maintain email distribution lists manually.
8. President Dorsey had requested the Committee to investigate the differences among the Federal District Courts
in their rules and procedures concerning e-filing. Kevin O'Donovan of Palmer Biezup volunteered to undertake this
project and will report at the next meeting.
9. The website, www.maritimeliens.com, was mentioned and described as a maritime lien registry. [Upon review
of the site, it appears to be a business that hopes to aggregate small lien claims against a vessel that would be sufficient
to justify the expense of an arrest. It is not possible to view liens filed against a vessel.]
Glen T. Oxton, Chair