Archive for December, 2013

Competition Bureau of Canada Investigating ICANN and New gTLDs

John Pecman, the Commissioner of Competition, yesterday advised that the Competition Bureau of Canada is reviewing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and its administration of the domain name system. In a follow-up email, I was told that the Bureau is investigating ICANN “since they are poised to […]

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December 6, 2013 1 comment Must Reads

Liberals Demand More Draconian IP Provisions: Propose Adding New Statutory Damages to Bill C-8

Liberal MP Judy Sgro continued her efforts yesterday to add lobbyist-inspired provisions to Bill C-8, the anti-counterfeiting legislation. Having already proposed removing the personal exception for travelers (leading to increased border searches) and a “simplified procedure” for the seizure of goodsthat would remove court oversight in the destruction of goods in a greater number of cases, Sgro proposed an amendment to add statutory damages with a mandatory minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $100,000 in liability. The provision would limit the discretion of judges to order damages based on the evidence.

The statutory damages provision was another ask for intellectual property lobby groups. As I noted in my appearance before the committee:

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December 5, 2013 13 comments News

Government Finalizes Anti-Spam Legislation After Years of Delay

On December 15, 2010, the Canadian government (then described as the Harper Government) celebrated the granting of royal assent for the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act, Canada’s long overdue anti-spam legislation. The last step for the bill to take effect was to finalize the associated regulations. Passing those regulations ultimately proved more difficult than passing the law itself, as an onslaught of lobby groups used the regulatory process to try to delay, dilute, and ultimately kill the anti-spam law.

Nearly three years after the legislation received royal assent, Industry Minister James Moore today announced that the regulations are now final and the law will begin to take effect next year (the spam provisions take effect on July 1, 2014; the software provisions start on January 15, 2015). The finalized regulations involve further concessions to the lobby groups opposed to the legislation as they create a new exception for third party referrals (permitting a single referral without consent) and largely exempt charities from many of the new rules. The private right of action that would facilitate lawsuits to combat spam will be delayed until July 1, 2017. These issues were all extensively discussed and debated during the legislative process and there was no need for further changes. 

While those changes are a disappointment, the far bigger story is that Canada finally has an anti-spam law grounded in an “opt-in” approach that requires marketers to obtain customer consent before sending commercial electronic messages.

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December 4, 2013 15 comments News

Liberals Propose Increased Border Searches By Eliminating Anti-Counterfeiting Personal Exception

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology held its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-8, the anti-counterfeiting bill yesterday. I appeared before the committee last month to express concerns about some lobbyist demands for reforms, including removing the exception for personal goods of travelers, the inclusion of statutory damages for trademark infringement, and targeting in-transit shipments.

While the committee did not complete the review of the bill – it will resume on Wednesday – the surprise of the day involved Liberal MP Judy Sgro proposing that the government remove the exception for personal travelers. Given that personal use exceptions are even included in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, it is shocking to see any party proposing their removal, which would result in longer delays at the border and increased searches of individual travelers. The proposal failed since it was rejected by both the Conservatives and NDP, with the NDP noting that “this was one of the important provisions that brought some balance to the bill.”

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December 3, 2013 12 comments News

The Federal Government’s Complete E-Government Failure

Ten years ago, Canada held the distinction of being the top ranked country in the world for the breadth and sophistication of its electronic government services. Citing the Canadian government’s integrated, strategic approach, annual assessments by Accenture found that more important services were offered online in Canada than anywhere else.

Fast forward a decade and Canada’s e-government rankings have steadily declined, a victim of astonishing neglect by the current Conservative government. Last week, the auditor general issued a scathing report on the state of e-government in Canada, noting the lost opportunities for reduced expenses and greater efficiencies as well as the complete absence of strategic vision.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the successful implementation of e-government initiatives should be a win-win scenario. For Canadian businesses and citizens, it offers convenience and round-the-clock access.  For government, the shift online offers the promise of significant cost savings. Indeed, rather than simply eliminating programs, the government could focus on cutting costs by emphasizing lower cost electronic delivery of its services.

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December 3, 2013 5 comments Columns