Archive for August, 2018

Foreign Minister Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and Mexican Ministry of Economy Guajardo Participate in the Fourth Round of NAFTA Negotiations by US Department of State, US government work, https://flic.kr/p/Zyj1pK

Crunch Time in the NAFTA Negotiations: What’s at Play for Canada on Digital Policy

As the NAFTA negotiations hit a possible home stretch this week, the focal point has been primarily on issues such as dispute resolution, the dairy sector, and the auto industry. However, the digital policy issues will have huge implications for Canada and the outline of the agreement between the U.S. and Mexico suggests that Canada is facing considerable pressure to agree to changes to our copyright, patent, IP enforcement, and digital policy rules, contrary to our preferred negotiation approach.

The U.S. appears to be pushing for a TPP+ approach – the TPP provisions plus some additional changes it did not get as part of those negotiations. This is notable since Canadian authorities admitted that the TPP went far beyond any previous Canadian free trade agreement. The Canadian starting point is presumably the CPTPP,  the revised TPP where Canada successfully argued for the suspension of some of the U.S.-backed provisions. This post outlines five of the biggest issues that are likely at play, though many others such as de minimis rules for shipments that affect online commerce will be closely watched and could ultimately require future reforms.

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August 30, 2018 13 comments News
Fight for your digital rights! by Oliver Wunder (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/p3dwKa

Maximum Mudslinging: How Powerful Lobby Groups Are Working to Sideline Civil Society Voices on Digital Policy

With just over a year to go before the 2019 Canadian national election, the upcoming fall Parliamentary session will undoubtedly feature a renewed urgency to pass legislative proposals and craft new policies that will form the basis for future election platforms. Digital issues will surely feature prominently including the copyright review and Copyright Board reform, website blocking proposals, privacy safeguards, the broadcast and telecom review, a national data policy, and the implementation of the IP strategy. The same is true elsewhere with Europe to again consider copyright reform, the U.S. assessing privacy rules, and many other countries engaged in digital policy initiatives. However, just as the broader public is finding its voices on these issues with policy submissions, petitions, and efforts to ensure that a public interest perspective is a core part of the process, the traditional lobby groups that have long dominated the policy discourse are steadily working to undermine those efforts with cries of user voices being “mob-driven“, “hacking“, or “disinformation.”

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August 22, 2018 4 comments News
CBC Fairplay Memo, obtained under ATIP

“This Really Isn’t Our Fight and It Will Cost Us”: Behind the Scenes of CBC Support for Bell’s Website Blocking Plan

Bell’s behind-the-scenes effort to drum up support for its site blocking proposal at the CRTC has been the subject of several posts over the past few months. Based primarily access-to-information requests, I’ve identified Bell pressure on universities and colleges such as Ryerson University, George Brown College, and Brock University, who all submitted support letters to the CRTC, though those letters were not always quite what they seemed (Brock University quickly distanced itself from the submission, the Dean behind the Ryerson letter advised Bell that he could not speak for the faculty). Earlier posts also highlighted Bell’s astroturfing campaign with its own employees and its undisclosed meetings with CRTC officials months before the proposal was made public.

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August 16, 2018 9 comments News
A protester holds a sign in Times Square by Geoff Stearns https://flic.kr/p/aw6XLr (CC BY 2.0)

One-Sided Story: Lobbyist Data Shows Music, Movie and Publisher Groups Account For 80 Per cent of Registered Copyright Meetings in Canada Since 2015 Election

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez travelled to Toronto last week, providing an opportunity for the newly-named minister to meet with cultural groups. With many of the biggest rights holder groups tweeting out the meet and greet (CMPA, Writers Guild, Access Copyright, ACTRA, ACP), the visit sent a signal that the new minister is readily available to hear creator community concerns. While Rodriguez should obviously take the time to meet with all stakeholders, an extensive review of lobbying records related to copyright since the 2015 election reveals that 80 per cent of registered copyright meetings for government officials, including policy makers, political staffers, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, have been with rights holder groups. The behind-the-scenes imbalance runs counter to oft-heard claims regarding the influence of companies such as Google and suggests a diminished voice for education, innovative companies, and users on copyright policy.

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August 14, 2018 13 comments News
New TELUS Store at Southgate by Mack Male (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/AnsScm

Telus vs. Telus: Who Do You Believe on Wireless Competition in Canada?

The state of Canadian wireless competition has been a much-discussed issue in recent years with numerous reports providing evidence that Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world. In fact, even the Competition Bureau has concluded that “market power concerns persist in the Canadian wireless industry” and “when market power is exercised, prices are higher, and wireless penetration is lower, than in a market that is competitive.” In response to the Competition Bureau’s report, Telus argued that the CRTC should “reject the Bureau’s submission in its entirety.”

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August 9, 2018 4 comments News