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Ich glotz TV. by Christian (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/aNQPMH

Digital Cancon, the Sequel: CRTC Broadcast Consult Sparks Demands for Everything from Internet and iPod Taxes to Website Blocking to Abandoning Net Neutrality

Canadians could be forgiven for thinking that the policies associated Cancon in a digital world largely wrapped up with the release of the government’s policy in September. Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly spent months crisscrossing the country, meeting with hundreds of stakeholders, and ultimately delivering a high profile policy that featured the much-debated Netflix commitment alongside various plans to support the sector. While Joly also promised reviews of the Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act, and Copyright Act, she puzzlingly re-opened the very issue she had just decided by issuing an Order-in-Council to the CRTC to examine (yet again) policies associated with broadcasting.

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December 6, 2017 7 comments News
Android Dev Phone 2 (aka Google Ion & HTC Magic) by Cedric Sam (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7sBBdQ

Bell’s Latest Privacy Solution: Enhance Internet Privacy By Blocking Access to It

The Canadaland report on Bell’s plans to apply to the CRTC to create a website blocking agency unsurprisingly sparked immediate widespread concern. I provided further detail on the proposal, noting the danger of establishing a blocking system without court review of the block list and the very weak case Bell makes to justify it. A critical aspect of the Bell proposal is that it must convince the CRTC that website blocking would further Canada’s telecommunications policy objectives. Given that the CRTC has already ruled that the law prohibits blocking without its approval, that is a difficult standard to meet. I argue that the three justifications raised by Bell – that piracy “threatens the social and economic fabric of Canada”, that the telecommunications system should “encourage compliance with Canadian laws” and that website blocking “will significantly contribute toward the protection of the privacy of Canadian Internet users” – is very weak.

In fact, the privacy argument is not only weak, it is incredibly hypocritical. Bell is arguably the worst major Canadian telecom company on user privacy and its attempt to justify website blocking on the grounds that it wants to protect privacy is shameful. There are obviously far better ways of protecting user privacy from risks on the Internet than blocking access to sites that might create those risks. Further, with literally millions of sites that pose some privacy risk, few would argue that the solution lies in blocking all of them.

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December 5, 2017 6 comments News
▇▇▇▇ [1113] by Brian J. Matis (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/bfa2dF

Bell Leads on Radical Proposal for CRTC-Backed Mandatory Website Blocking System

Canadaland reports today that Bell is leading a coalition that plans to file a proposal with the CRTC that would lead to the creation a mandatory website blocking system in Canada. The unprecedented proposal, which includes the creation of a new “Internet Piracy Review Agency”, envisions the creation of mandatory block lists without judicial review to be enforced by the CRTC. As a result, the companies (reportedly including Rogers and Cineplex) envision sweeping new Internet regulations with the CRTC ultimately charged with enforcing site blocking by every Internet provider in Canada. I reviewed the proposal in order to provide comments to the Canadaland.

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December 4, 2017 31 comments News
internet is freedom of speech by pgrandicelli BEE FREE (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6F5Cu1

Canada’s Missing Internet Provision: Why NAFTA Offers the Chance to Establish Long Overdue Online Speech Safeguards

During the earliest days of the commercial Internet, the United States enacted the Communications Decency Act, legislation designed to address two concerns with the rapidly growing online world: the availability of obscene materials and the liability of Internet services hosting third party content. While the obscenity provisions in the 1996 law were quickly struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, the liability rules emerged as a cornerstone of U.S. Internet policy.

The rules, which many regard as the single most important legal protection for free speech on the Internet, establish a safe harbour that ensures online services are not liable for the content posted by their users. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that over the past two decades, the CDA Section 203(c) provision has been used by every major Internet service – from Google to Amazon to Airbnb – to ensure that courts, not private companies, determine what is lawful and permitted to remain online.

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December 1, 2017 2 comments Columns
Foreign Minister Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and Mexican Ministry of Economy Guajardo Participate in the Fourth Round of NAFTA Negotiations by U.S. Department of State, United States government work https://flic.kr/p/Zyj1pK

NAFTA and the Digital Environment: My CIGI Global Forum Lecture

Last week I delivered the CIGI Global Forum lecture in Ottawa on NAFTA and the Digital Environment. The lecture draws on some of my work for CIGI (NAFTA, Innovation) and makes the case that NAFTA negotiations are a problematic place for digital copyright reform, noting the lack of transparency, lost flexibility, and inability to strike a critical policy balance. Given that the issues are seemingly unavoidable in NAFTA, the lecture then highlights the preferred approach (relying on international treaty standards) and identifies many of the most important issues up for discussion including copyright term, fair dealing, intermediary liability and digital issues such as net neutrality and data localization. A video of the talk is embedded below.

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November 29, 2017 1 comment Keynote Speaking, News, Video