Latest Posts

Monsef Tour Poster-1-blank by Laurel L. Russwurm https://flic.kr/p/LczAJj CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

MyDemocracy.ca Responses Don’t Count If You Refuse To Disclose Household Income and Other Personal Information

The government’s MyDemocracy.ca survey/consultation/questionnaire launched yesterday to a steady stream of criticism as the initiative does not follow the typical consultative approach. Rather than asking direct questions about public electoral preferences, there are a series of questions on “values, preferences, and priorities” that are supposedly designed to discern user preferences. The questions focus on representation, parties, and voting rules (there are several questions on electronic voting that ask if there is support even if the systems are less secure).

The initiative is being run by Vox Pop Labs and the site’s privacy policy advises that the Privacy Act and PIPEDA apply.  However, dig into the policy and you learn that users that do not provide detailed demographic information – including age, gender, education, household income, profession, language, interest in politics, and postal code – will not have their responses considered as part of the study. The specific provision states:

Read more ›

December 6, 2016 5 comments News
IMG_1218-17 by Jim Fruchterman (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8cWZ9T

Music Canada Reverses on Years of Copyright Lobbying: Now Says WIPO Internet Treaties Were Wrong Guess

In the decade of lobbying leading up to the reform of Canadian copyright law in 2012, the music industry had one core message: Canada needed to implement and ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties. While many education, consumer, and business groups expressed concern that the digital lock rules in the treaties would harm innovation, the music industry was insistent that the WIPO Internet treaties represented an essential component of digital copyright reform. The lobbying campaign was successful as Canada proceeded to implement and ratify the treaties. The legislation is still relatively new, but in a stunning reversal, the head of Music Canada now says that the drafters of the WIPO Internet Treaties were just guessing and suggests that they guessed wrong.

The intensity of the lobbying for the WIPO Internet treaties is difficult to overstate. In 2004, Billboard reported that 26 Canadian industry groups were pressuring the government to ratify the treaties. In 2006, Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (later Music Canada), wrote an op-ed in the National Post titled “Protect Artists: Reform Canada’s Copyright Laws” which argued that:

Read more ›

December 1, 2016 3 comments News
Culture and heritage ministers from across Canada meet in Victoria by Province of British Columbia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/HVZpWv

Melanie Joly’s Tough Choice on Canadian Content: New Thinking or New Taxes

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly launched her surprise national consultation on Canadian content in a digital world last April with considerable excitement for the possibilities of revolutionizing policies born in an analog era. Joly spoke enthusiastically about the potential for Canadian creators to use digital networks to reach global audiences and for all stakeholders to rethink the cultural policy toolkit.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that submissions to the consultation closed last week and despite the hope for new, innovative thinking, many of Canada’s largest cultural groups placed their bets on extending a myriad of funding mechanisms to the Internet. Rather than overhauling older programs, the groups want those policies expanded by mandating new fees, costs or taxes on Internet services, Internet service providers, Internet advertisers, and even the sale of digital storage devices such as USB keys and hard drives.

Read more ›

November 30, 2016 3 comments Columns
CBC Radio Canada - Vancouver by Tyler Ingram (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7NujTF

Why We Need the CBC as an Ad-Free Digital News Competitor

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage wrapped up its lengthy hearing on the media and local news last week with appearances from Facebook, Google, and the Globe and Mail (I appeared before the committee last month and my opening comments and review of the discussion that followed can be found here). The high profile witnesses sparked another round of debate over the ongoing troubles in the newspaper industry with intensifying criticism of the CBC’s emphasis on digital news services, including a new opinion section and its acceptance of digital advertising, which are both viewed as direct competition for the struggling private sector alternatives.

For example, Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley told the committee that the CBC is the Globe’s largest competitor in the digital ad space. He expressed concern over the inclusion of opinion, which is viewed as further encroaching on newspapers’ turf, and pointed to the BBC’s approach, which faces government-backed restrictions on accepting digital advertising on its domestic websites. The CBC criticism has emerged as a common theme for several years with many media organizations and commentators arguing that CBC should not be in the business of competing with newspapers.

The CBC responded on Monday with a letter to the committee titled “limiting access to the digital public space is not in the public interest.” The CBC argued that given the struggles of smaller papers, its online presence is more important than ever.  Further, it tried to downplay the significance of its digital advertising revenue, arguing that it amounts to $25 million annually, a very small share of the total digital advertising expenditures in Canada.

Read more ›

November 23, 2016 7 comments News
Donald J. Trump at Marriott Marquis NYC September 7th 2016 by Michael Vadon (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/Mj9V9J

Back to the Drawing Board as Trump Kills the TPP

President-Elect Donald Trump has ended any further speculation about the future of the Trans Pacific Partnership by announcing that he plans to formally withdraw from the agreement on his first day in office. I’ve written extensively about why ratification for Canada would be a mistake and argued last week in the Globe that Canada should use the death of the TPP as an opportunity to re-examine its approach to trade agreement negotiations including working toward greater transparency, focusing on tariff reduction rather than regulations, and dropping controversial ISDS provisions.

The need for Canada to wait on the U.S. has been readily apparent for months. As currently structured, the TPP cannot take effect without the U.S. since entering into force requires ratification by at least six signatories who represent at least 85 percent of the GDP of the countries in the original deal. That provision effectively gives both the U.S. and Japan veto power. With the U.S. pulling out, the agreement will not enter into force no matter what Canada (or anyone else) does.

The central role of the U.S. in the TPP is no accident. For most TPP countries, access to the U.S. market was the primary reason for entering into the agreement and as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said over the weekend, “the TPP would be meaningless without the United States.” Indeed, the reason Canada, Japan, and Mexico all joined the TPP talks late was that without a clear commitment from the U.S., the agreement was of limited value.

Read more ›

November 22, 2016 2 comments News