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Here is the Internet by Wolfgang Stief (CC0 1.0)  https://flic.kr/p/7k6W5j

Government Rejects Call for an Internet Tax: “Conflicts With Principle of Affordable Access”

The federal government yesterday released its response to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage report on local media released last June. The most controversial recommendation in that report – one swiftly rejected by Prime Minister Trudeau – was a call for a new Internet tax to help fund Canadian media and the creation of Cancon. As I wrote at the time, the proposal is a terrible idea that runs counter to important policy objectives of fostering affordable network access for all Canadians.

The government response, signed by Ministers Joly, Bains, and Morneau, rightly notes that “access to affordable broadband Internet, particularly in rural and remote regions, is essential to the participation of the Canadians in the digital economy.”  In light of this policy priority, the government firmly rejects the Internet tax proposal, grounding its decision in the principle of affordable access:

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October 19, 2017 0 comments News
Phishing warning by Christiaan Colen (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/x9zYUh

The Case for CASL: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is conducting a review of CASL, Canada’s anti-spam law. While the usual critics are out in full force, I had the opportunity to appear before the committee yesterday to explain why there is real harm, why CASL has helped solve the problem, and why claims that the law is overbroad are overstated. Of particular note was the discussion involving the significant decline in the number of major spamming organizations operating in Canada since the law took effect. Three years ago, Spamhaus’ Register of Known Spamming Organizations listed Canada as home to 7 of the top 100 spamming organizations worldwide (who are responsible for 80% of global spam). Canada’s presence on the ROKSO list has been dramatically reduced with only two Canadian-based organizations remaining on the list, suggesting that spam originating in Canada has experienced a significant decline. My full opening remarks are posted below.

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October 18, 2017 2 comments News
Canada Copyright Board: Challenges & Opportunities #copycon2015 panel by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/z73WDe

Prioritizing the Public Interest: My Submission on Copyright Board of Canada Reform

The government’s consultation on reform to the Copyright Board of Canada recently closed with a plan for reform expected to be unveiled in the coming months. My submission to the consultation is posted below. It focuses on two areas. First, it emphasizes the overriding goal of any public institution or administrative tribunal: serving the public interest. In doing so, it points to three issues: public participation, the independence of members of the Copyright Board, and regulation and transparency of copyright collectives.

On this last issue, I note the close linkage between the parties that appear or are affected by board decisions and reform of the board itself. While the consultation document maintains that governance of collecting societies is beyond the scope of the consultation, I argue that solely addressing administrative powers wielded by the board without also assessing the rules pertaining to participation before the board will not adequately address concerns regarding the function of the board itself. In other words, the who and the how are inextricably linked and must be addressed concurrently.

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October 16, 2017 3 comments News
Canada Declaration by Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/svUaQY

Border and Airport Privacy: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has been conducting a much-needed study on the privacy issues arising from the border and airports. The study has attracted considerable media attention, with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada warning about U.S. border phone searches and the CBSA promising to begin tracking cellphone searches.  I appeared before the committee late last month alongside the Canadian Bar Association and privacy expert Kris Klein. The full transcript can be found here.

My opening remarks are posted below. I focused on four issues to consider in trying to address airport and border privacy concerns: Privacy Act reform, information sharing within government, the applicability of Charter rights at the border, and the role of the NAFTA negotiations.

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October 12, 2017 4 comments News
GST/HST Return, CRA, https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/migration/cra-arc/E/pbg/gf/gst59/gst59-17e.pdf

Think There Should be a Netflix Tax?: Why There is Nothing Stopping Canadian Subscribers From Paying Today

The ongoing furor over Netflix taxes remains one of oddest and most poorly understood public policy debates in recent memory. Part of the problem is that a “Netflix tax” has long been used to mean different things to different people. When first raised by the Conservative government, the issue had nothing to do with sales tax. Rather, a “Netflix tax” was a reference to a mandated contribution to help fund Canadian content, a position supported by various cultural groups and some provincial governments. The no-Netflix tax position took hold, however, and all three major parties adopted the position that they would not mandate contributions from online service providers such as Netflix.

More recently, the debate has shifted to Netflix tax as a sales tax with the goal of creating a “level playing field.” I tried to debunk the level playing field claims in this post and on Canadaland, but the claims of the need for a level playing field and sales tax continues. Yesterday, the NDP stated:

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October 11, 2017 3 comments News