State of Delaware Offers Authenticated Regulations Online

The Office of the Registrar of Regulations, publishes various documents which conform to accepted standards regarding authenticated digital content. The Office certifes the authenticated documents published on this website and assures the authenticity of the author, source and origin of the authenticated documents when such document bears the following emblem:

DE certification image

via State of Delaware – Delaware Regulations – Home Page.

This is important stuff. By adding this digital signature to the electronic copy of the Delaware Regulations viewers of the the documents can rely on them as accurate and authentic. That means that there is no need to refer to any other copy of the regulations. This pronouncement of authenticity of the digital copy is something that is key to the success of the open access to law movement. Until the bodies that generate the law authenticate the digital copies that are available using them is risky.

For example, look at this disclaimer from the Delaware Code website:

DISCLAIMER: Please Note: With respect to the Delaware Code documents available from this site or server, neither the State of Delaware nor any of its employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately-owned rights. This information is provided for informational purposes only. Please seek legal counsel for help on interpretation of individual statutes.

In a nutshell it disclaims authenticity in the online version of the code making it effectively useless without reference to the authenticated (presumably) print version. You cannot legally rely on the electronic copy of the Delaware Code.

It is worth noting that starting with the 2009 – 2010 session, volume 77, Laws of Delaware are also authenticated with digital signatures. These are the session laws of the Delaware General Assembly.

I’m not sure if any other states are making authenticated copies of regulations or codes available or if any courts are offering authenticated opinions but it is something that needs to be done. In order for the open access and movement to really work there needs to be open access to authenticated copies of the law. Simply having access to the raw data, or to unauthenticated copies is a fine first step, but is really only useful for research and information. After all, the law belongs to all of us, we have a right to open access to authenticated copies of the law.

HT to Law Librarian Blog for the pointer to the beSpecific link to Delaware Regulations.