This post, which focuses on the Conservatives commitment to pass lawful access legislation that would fundamentally reshape the Internet in Canada within the new Parliament’s first 100 days if it wins a majority, requires two caveats. The first is to emphasize that I believe digital policies are not a partisan issue. Developing a digital economy strategy, introducing balanced copyright, addressing cybercrime while preserving privacy is not a left or right, Liberal or Conservative, issue.
The second is to note that all the major parties have strong and weak points on digital issues:
- the Conservatives passed anti-spam legislation, defended fair dealing reform on C-32, and pressured the CRTC on the usage based billing issue (they also failed to strike a balance on digital locks and include a digital economy strategy in their platform)
- the Liberals made a strong commitment on digital policies in their platform, were the first to focus on open government, and called for changes to the digital lock rules (they also failed to take a stand on foreign investment in telecommunications and had MP Dan McTeague openly working with CRIA on an anti-consumer copyright policy)
- the NDP were the first to draw attention to consumer issues on copyright, to commit to net neutrality, and to take a stand on UBB (they also are strong supporters of an iPod levy).
While there are good and bad with each party, the Conservatives new commitment to lawful access – new laws that would establish massive Internet surveillance requirements and the potential disclosure of personal information without court oversight – is incredibly problematic for the Internet, privacy, and online freedoms. It requires real debate yet seems likely to slip under the public radar.