Columns

Mark Zuckerberg's original Facebook profile by Niall Kennedy (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/apNav2

Be Careful What You Wish For: The Risk of Ceding Online Content Monitoring to Internet Giants

As elected officials place Internet giants such as Google and Facebook under an increasingly intense microscope, the pressure mounts on those companies to play more proactive roles in policing content on their networks. In recent weeks, the demands have come from seemingly every direction: privacy commissioners seeking rules on the removal of search results, politicians calling for increased efforts to address fake news on Internet platforms, and Internet users wondering why the companies are slow to takedown allegedly defamatory or harmful postings.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes Internet companies can undoubtedly do more, but laying the responsibility primarily at their feet poses its own risks as governments and regulators effectively cede responsibility for content moderation and policing to private, for-profit companies. In doing so, there is a real chance that the Internet giants will become even more powerful, limiting future competition and entrenching an uncomfortable reliance on private organizations for activities that are traditionally conducted by courts and regulators.

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April 19, 2018 10 comments Columns
Broken record by Tomi Tirkkonen (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9GZZxM

Broken Record: Why the Music Industry’s Secret Plan for iPhone Taxes, Internet Tracking and Content Blocking is Off-Key

The long-awaited Canadian copyright review is set to kick off hearings next week as a House of Commons committee embarks on a year-long process that will hear from a wide range of stakeholders. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, however, one stakeholder – the Canadian Music Policy Coalition, an umbrella group representing 17 music associations – got an early start on the review process last fall by quietly submitting a 30-page reform proposal to government officials.

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April 11, 2018 6 comments Columns
Tax Key by GotCredit https://flic.kr/p/Tnkvkh (CC BY 2.0)

Quebec Digital Sales Tax Plan Shows It Is Easier Said Than Done

Government officials and cultural groups in Quebec have been banging the drum for much of the past year for the imposition of digital sales taxes on services such as Netflix. The debate is often framed around the notion that Netflix and other Internet companies should be collecting sales tax like any other service provider. Supporters argue that other countries have begun to levy sales taxes on digital services and Canada should do the same.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes the federal government has sent mixed signals to date, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejecting new taxes on the grounds that Canadians “pay enough for the Internet”, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly seemingly keeping the door open to new taxes, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau committing to studying the issue while international standards develop.

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April 5, 2018 5 comments Columns
Some SIM Cards by mroach  (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/5jBZEx

Back to Bains: Why the CRTC Has Left Fixing Canada’s Wireless Woes to the Government

Few policy issues have proven as frustrating as the state of Canadian wireless pricing. For the better part of a decade, Conservative and Liberal governments have grappled with overwhelming evidence that Canadian consumers pay some of the highest prices for wireless services in the world. The solution has always seemed obvious: more competition. Yet despite repeated efforts to nudge the market and regulator toward a more competitive environment, the needle has barely moved.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that the latest failed effort was sparked by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains’ June 2017 request to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to reconsider a decision on how regional and smaller wireless companies access wholesale roaming services from larger providers.

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March 26, 2018 3 comments Columns
delete by Mixy Lorenzo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7bGe9M

No Longer Fit for Purpose: Why Canadian Privacy Law Needs an Update

Canada’s private sector privacy law was first introduced 20 years ago, coinciding with the founding of Google and predating Facebook, the iPhone, and the myriad of smart devices that millions of Canadians now have in their homes. Two decades is a long time in the world of technology and privacy and it shows. There has been modest tinkering with the Canadian rules over the years, but my Globe and Mail opinion piece notes the law is struggling to remain relevant in a digital age when our personal information becomes increasingly valuable and our consent models are little more than a legal fiction.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Ethics and Privacy last week released the results of a comprehensive study into Canadian privacy law. The report, which features 19 recommendations, provides Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains with a road map for future reforms (I appeared before the committee as one of 68 witnesses from across the policy spectrum).

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March 6, 2018 2 comments Columns