A bit of confusion over in-flight births

You’ve probably read that a Ugandan woman had her own version of an early New Year’s celebration by giving birth to a daughter aboard an international plane flight.

The woman, who was not identified, was flying on Northwest Flight 59 from Amsterdam to Boston’s Logan International Airport when she went into labor. Two doctors on the plane delivered the baby as the plane flew over Canada. Mom and Sasha – the little girl — were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital after the successful midair birth.

It’s a sweet story to start the new year, but a couple sentences in the Boston Herald article caught my eye:

Raman said the woman is a permanent U.S. resident. Officials said the baby is technically a Canadian citizen.

Is that really how airborne citizenship works? I would think on the rare occasion a child entered the world during a plane flight, any citizenship in addition to that handed down by parents would be determined by the nationality of the carrier. I mean, don’t boats fly under national flags? Is there no equivalent for planes?

And wouldn’t that mean if a fight had broken out at that same moment over Canada, the country would have to send Mounties down to Boston to investigate after it landed, as it’d be Canadian jurisdiction?

A quick scan of the Internet shows conflicting — or at the very least confusing — information on the recognition of airborne births.

The UN would seem to agree with my take. From HowStuffWorks.com:

Almost every country in the world, as well as the United Nations, has procedures and recommendations for how to properly classify the geographic details of an in-air birth. The United Nations considers a child born in-flight to have been born in the airplane’s registered country.

However, the same Web entry then goes into some detail about the variations in procedures between American states and counties. Thus I’m left with more information, but also more confusion. Any experts out there on air and space law who’d care to help me out?

JOE BACCHUS, Web Specialist

Think before you tweet, lawyers warn

At a recent social networking workshop, the presenter asked which of us had begun using Twitter. I raised my hand.

“A warning…,” he began, as he typed his own name into Google. Lo and behold, several of his recent “tweets” (140-character messages he’d sent via Twitter) turned up. Within the first 20 search results.

It’s something to think (long, hard) about for Twitter users who have a reputation to protect – theirs or their company’s.

In fact, tweets are not only indexed by search engines – they’re also subject to subpoena.

That’s right, e-discovery lawyers tell The National Law Journal that tweets sent on a corporate network (ie. from your desk, when no one’s looking) are legally binding conversations and subject to the rules of electronic discovery.

“Be careful what you say,” warned attorney Douglas E. Winter, who heads the electronic discovery unit at Bryan Cave and advises companies about emerging technologies.

Winter stressed that tweets are no different from letters, e-mails or text messages. They can be damaging and discoverable, he said, which could be especially problematic for companies that are heavily regulated and required to preserve and maintain electronic records, such as the securities industry and federal contractors.

Other legal issues that could arise from tweets: privacy issues, trademark violations, and workplace retaliation claims, if users complain they were fired over the information in their tweets.

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor