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Michael Geist's Blog

CRTC Outlines Plans for Do-Not-Call List Policy Process

The CRTC today unveiled a series of developments on the creation of a do-not-call list.  The Commission will hold a four-day public hearing on the issue from May 2 to 5, 2006.  Those interested in participating must register by March 6, 2006 (those interested in submitting comments without participating can submit something until May 10, 2006).  In addition, there are potential opportunities to participate in a consortium that will appoint the do-not-call list administrator as well as on a technical body that will address operational issues.

While Bill C-37, the legislation that created the do-not-call list, was gutted by special interest lobbying, the implementation could still be worse as even more lobbying is expected with further attempts to broaden the exemptions.  For that reason, Canadians should be taking the CRTC up on its offer to participate in the hearings or to submit comments.
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LSAT Fingerprinting Tests the Limits of Privacy Law

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) examines the growing controversy over the mandatory fingerprinting of students taking the LSAT.  There has been swift reaction to the thumb-printing story, with the federal, British Columbia, and Alberta Privacy Commissioners joining forces in a combined privacy investigation.  Moreover, the Canadian Council of Law Deans, which represents law schools across the country, has expressed concern over the practice, acknowledging that the data could be subject to a USA Patriot Act request.  The Council raised questions about whether the practice might violate federal and provincial privacy statutes.

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Oda on Copyright Reform

The Globe has an article today on new Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda's plans for culture and copyright policy.  The copyright comments:

"As a veteran educator - Oda spent six years teaching theatre arts and art to children in Mississauga, Ont. - she also has some caveats about the last government's proposed copyright legislation. 'Last session, our party stood up and said we'd like to look at digital access for learning materials. So we're still looking at copyright legislation overall.' Those who had hoped for the new government to automatically push through the Liberals' bill should not hold their breath."

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It's Baaack: Day Calls National ID Card Inevitable

Stockwell Day, Canada's new minister of public security, has raised the prospect of creating a national ID card.  Again.  This issue was a pet project of former Liberal Minister Denis Coderre, who pushed for a national ID card that would be expensive, provide little additional security, create new privacy risks, and would remove rights to remain anonymous. 
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Internet Gambling Advertising Bill Introduced in Ontario

Thanks to John Gregory for pointing out that a private member's bill was introduced yesterday into the Ontario legislature that seeks to prohibit advertising of unregulated Internet gambling.  If enacted, the Bill C-60 would amend the Consumer Protection Act by adding the following provision:

"No person shall print, publish, distribute, broadcast or telecast an advertisement or representation that includes an Internet gaming business website address unless the person believes in good faith that the Internet gaming business has been licensed or otherwise granted permission to operate in Ontario or Canada by the appropriate authority and is operated in accordance with the applicable laws of Ontario and Canada."
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Supreme Court Denies Leave in Bangoura Case

The Bangoura case, the much-discussed Canadian Internet jurisdiction case, has come to a close as the Supreme Court of Canada today denied Bangoura's request for leave to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision.  Still working its way through the courts is the appeal of the Burke v. NewYork Post case, however, so Internet jurisdiction issues remain alive and well in Canada.
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The Sony Rootkit Effect

While the blogosphere is understandably focused on the revelation that the RIAA now says that "creating a back-up copy of a music CD is not a non-infringing use" (after telling the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grokster hearing that "it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."), I think two other stories out today merit attention. 
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The Slippery Slope of Two-Tier Email

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, BBC Version, webpage version) examines America Online and Yahoo!' s recent announcement of a new fee-based system for commercial email. I argue that certified email will do little to address spam and may not attract a large client base.  Rather, its more significant impact lies in the fact that it is yet another step toward the two-tiered Internet that will ultimately shift new costs to consumers.


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CCTA To Shut Down

The Canadian Cable Telecommunications Association, Canada's leading cable association, announced today that it plans to shut down after 50 years of operations.  The CCTA had been hit by several major defections in recent years (Shaw and Videotron being the most prominent) as the key industry players seemingly agreed on less and less.  The CCTA actually switched its name a couple of years ago from Television to Telecommunications to reflect a broader mandate, but with more issues comes more sources of disagreement.  Given the power of companies such as Rogers and Shaw, they are clearly content (and quite able) to fend for themselves on law and regulatory matters. 

The long-term impact is difficult to gauge.  On copyright related matters, I think it is troubling that the major ISPs in Canada do not speak with a strong single voice as the CCTA is gone and the Canadian Association of Internet Providers is not a particularly strong association. The fight over notice and takedown will return and there should be no doubt that the copyright lobby will seize this development to argue for a shift away from Bill C-60's notice and notice approach.  Similarly, on issues such as spam and lawful access, ISPs are generally aligned with user interests and the lack of a strong, single voice may hurt.  That said, there are other issues - network neutrality come to mind - where a divided industry isn't all bad, since there is the potential for contrary voices that will reject a two-tiered Internet as a competitive advantage.
 

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The CBC as a Role Model

I've been critical of the CBC over the past few months, emphasizing the need for Canada's public broadcaster to do more to embrace the potential of new technologies and the Internet.  To that end, there are signs that the CBC is moving in the right direction.  In addition to a Globe and Mail report that indicates that the CBC is talking with Apple and Google about providing video downloads (possibly free), check out the Fifth Estate's website devoted to this evening's documentary on former PM Brian Mulroney and the Airbus affair.  The site does exactly what a companion website to a television program should do by offering additional video and audio clips, original documents, and additional background information that was not included in the one-hour program.  It is clear that considerable resources went into the site and I think that it provides a model for others to follow.
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