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Michael Geist's Blog

Privacy Commish on Staples & eHarmony: Why Keep Investigations & Audit Results Under Wraps?

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada released her PIPEDA annual report yesterday with a clear emphasis on the Internet (Google Buzz & Wifi, Facebook, eHarmony, etc.). The headline grabbing stories included an audit of Staples that found the company had frequently failed to wipe customer information from computers and other devices being resold in the stores and an investigation of eHarmony, the online dating site, that had led to changes to its customer data deletion practices.

While these are important privacy developments, the release of this information weeks or months after the investigation or audit was concluded points to a significant flaw in the current reporting approach. I recognize that that is how the system currently functions - the OPC reports to Parliament on audit findings and only occasionally publicly reports on PIPEDA investigations - yet there is something fundamentally flawed with a system that keeps consumers in the dark for months about privacy risks. This is particularly ironic given the OPC's emphasis on data breaches and the need for the private sector to disclose breaches as quickly as possible. The same should be true for audits and investigations to allow the public to react to newly identified privacy risks. 

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CPCC: No Levies on Cloud Music Services

The Canadian Private Copying Collective has issued a release saying that it has no plans to seek a levy on cloud-based music services. The CPCC says the services are viewed as licensed services, not private copying (though neither the Google nor Amazon services are currently licensed).  The announcement vindicates Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, who identified cloud-based services as a reason not to extend the levy in November 2010 in response to Bloc Quebecois questions in the House of Commons:

My colleague from the Bloc Québécois keeps talking about downloading and MP3s. She does not mention applications like Stitcher and streaming online services. People do not download music now and then pay for the download. People are now streaming media online. There are whole new services now for streaming music.

Therefore, the proposals that she has talked about but has not written down so we cannot see the details of it, does not actually fit the current regime of how people are consuming music. It does not work. It is a solution for 1995. It is not a solution for 2010 and 2015. What she is proposing is window dressing. It is not actually substantive in dealing with the issue of the private copying regime. It does not actually substantively do it.
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OECD Releases Report on National Broadband Plans

The OECD has released a new study on national broadband plans that finds that Canada is one of the few countries without government-backed targets for broadband access and speeds.
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International Free Speech Representatives Issue Joint Declaration on Expression and the Internet

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information have issued a joint declaration on freedom of expression and the Internet that builds on the recent UN report.
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"A Great Moment for the Free Flow of Information"

Google's Public Policy Blog comments on the recent UN Report on freedom of expression and the Internet.
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Creators' Access Copyright on AC's 2010 Financial Statements

"Revenue is dropping and expenses are rising. And expenses have risen 22.5% in four years."
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