Archive for May 3rd, 2007

GAO Study Contradicts Counterfeit Claims: My Appearance before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

I appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on Wednesday to discuss counterfeiting (following on my appearance last week before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security).  My opening remarks are posted below – they focused primarily on the need to obtain more accurate data (I cited the inconsistent data associated with camcording) and to separate the counterfeiting issue from copyright reform (I argued that the inclusion of issues such as ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties is hampering progress on the serious counterfeiting problems).

Interestingly, just after the hearing I was alerted to a new U.S. study [PDF] from the Government Accountability Office on U.S. border enforcement activities against counterfeiting.  The report is a must-read for people focused on this issue as it highlights two very important things.  First, notwithstanding the claims that Canada must dramatically reform the powers afforded to our border services to address counterfeiting, the GAO study demonstrates that even countries like the U.S. are struggling with this issue as it points to a lack of data and coordination within the U.S.

Second, the data contained in the GAO report suggests that the claims associated with counterfeiting are massively overstated.  The Industry Committee previously heard from witnesses who noted that there have claims that 5 to 7 percent of world trade involves counterfeit products (some even argue that is growing).  The GAO study points to the U.S. Compliance Measure Program, a statistical sampling program, that randomly selects shipments to check for their compliance with the law, including IP laws.  Of 287,000 inspected shipments from 2000 – 2005, IP violations were only found in 0.06 percent of shipments – less than one tenth of one percent.  This large random sample suggests that counterfeit products are actually only found in a tiny percentage of shipments.  Moreover, the GAO notes that despite increases in IP seizures, the value of those seizures in 2005 represented only 0.02 percent of the total value of imports of goods in product categories that are likely to involve IP protection.  In other words, the evidence from an independent, U.S. government sponsored agency points to a far different reality from that presented to the two parliamentary committees investigating counterfeiting.

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May 3, 2007 3 comments Committees, News

Transcript of SECU Counterfeiting Hearing Posted

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has posted the transcript of my appearance before the committee on counterfeiting.

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May 3, 2007 Comments are Disabled Committees, Must Reads

Calgary Police Chair Seeks New Internet Centre

The chair of Calgary's police commission wants to set up an international internet security centre in Alberta to monitor online child predators, hackers and terrorists.

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May 3, 2007 2 comments Must Reads

PIPEDA Reform Report Recommends Few Major Changes

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics yesterday released its much-anticipated (by the privacy community at least) PIPEDA report [pdf].  Canada's private sector privacy law mandates a review of the statute every five years.  This report is the first report on the law and it draws from several months of hearings that featured 67 witnesses.  The committee report makes 25 recommendations, yet those expecting an upgrade to Canadian privacy legislation will be deeply disappointed.  Most of the recommendations involve relatively small changes that make the federal law more consistent with the provincial laws in Alberta and B.C. (ie. a change in the business contact information provision that will severely hamper the ability to use PIPEDA to challenge spam) or seek to clarify the current wording (ie. clarification of different forms of consent).

On the big issues of the day, the committee generally recommended no change.  In particular, the committee recommended no order making power, no naming names, and no additional provisions related to transborder data flows.  The committee does recommend the creation of a breach notification provision, but stops short of matching U.S. style provisions by recommending that the notification go first to the Privacy Commissioner who would then determine whether individuals should be notified.  The one exception to this generally dismal outcome is that the committee recommended the removal of Section 7(1)(e), which allows organizations to collect and use personal information on national security grounds.  The Conservative MPs on the committee issued a dissenting opinion on this provision and it stands no chance of being implemented by the current government.

What to take away from the report? 

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May 3, 2007 Comments are Disabled News

Syncrude Demands Grandmother Take Down Tar Sands Photos

The Globe and Mail reports that Syncrude is demanding that an 85 year old grandmother from Colorado take down photos she took of the tar sands during a company tour last year.

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May 3, 2007 1 comment Must Reads