Intellectual property was one of the most contentious aspects of the
CETA negotiations, with copyright, patents, and geographic indications
all sources of concern. A summary of the impact of CETA on each is
posted below (additional posts on the need to release the text and the telecom and e-commerce provisions).
Early CETA drafts included extensive copyright provisions that would
have rendered Canadian copyright law virtually unrecognizable from its
current state. The EU position on copyright changed after two
developments in 2012. First, Canada passed long-awaited copyright reform
that addressed several concerns, most notably legal protection for
digital locks and ISP liability. Second, the EU abandoned many of the
remaining demands after the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in
July 2012 to reject Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, striking a
major blow to the hopes of supporters who envisioned a landmark
agreement that would set a new standard for intellectual property rights
The resulting copyright provisions appear benign, as the government is claiming that CETA is consistent with current Canadian law:
Read More ...
CETA echoes the recent Copyright Modernization Act, which
supports advances in technology and international standards. It
will enhance the ability of copyright owners to benefit from their
work while at the same time allowing Internet service providers,
educators, students and businesses the tools they need to use new
technologies in innovative ways. CETA also brings Canada in line
with the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet
Treaties. CETA upholds the right balance struck in the Copyright
Modernization Act between the needs of creators and users and is
supported by creator groups, consumer organizations and businesses
that help drive Canada’s economy.
TagsShareFriday October 18, 2013
Canadian law is already in line with the WIPO Internet treaties (the
ratification process is currently underway) and the reference to
"upholding the right balance" suggests no further legislative
reforms will be needed.
Patents was the other major source of contention with Canada
expected to cave on several reforms that would increase
pharmaceutical costs for Canadians and benefit the large
pharmaceutical companies. The summary
suggests that the pharmaceutical companies only got
part of what they wanted. They had demanded both data exclusivity
(which refers to restrictions on the use of clinical test data by
generic competitors) and patent term restoration (which refers to
the extension of patents to account for a period when a patent is
granted but other approvals for sale of the drug are pending). The
EU got patent term restoration, which will allow the large
pharmaceutical companies to extend the term of their patents and
keep generics off the market for an extended period of time.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has admitted
that this will result in higher health care costs, while a new
government report indicates
that pharmaceutical investment in research and development in Canada
continues to decline. The summary states:
With respect to the pharmaceutical sector, CETA will provide
extended protection for innovators while ensuring that Canadians
continue to have access to the affordable drugs they need. CETA
reinforces the Government of Canada’s commitment to attracting and
retaining investments that support high-paying jobs in Canada as
well as rewarding innovators and ensuring that Canadians are able
to reap the fruits of such innovation. This helps keep Canada as
an important destination for research and development and supports
Canadians’ access to the most innovative medical breakthroughs.
Once again, a draft text is needed to fully assess the impact.
Geographical indications (GI) are signs used on goods - frequently
food, wine, or spirits - that have a specific geographical origin
and are said to possess qualities, reputation or characteristics
that are essentially attributable to that place of origin.
Given the quality associated with the product, proponents of GI
protection argue that it is needed to avoid consumer confusion as
well as to protect legitimate producers.
Europe has the most extensive geographical indication protections in
the world. These include Protected Designation of Origin (PDO),
which covers agricultural products produced, processed and prepared
in a given geographical area using recognized know-how; Protected
Geographical Indication (PGI), which covers agricultural products
linked to the geographical area; and Traditional Speciality
Guaranteed (TSG), which highlights traditional character, either in
the composition or means of production.
The net effect of the European system is that hundreds of items
enjoy special legal protection. Over the past
Canada has made significant changes to its own geographical
system. These include taking many popular terms - including
Champagne, Port, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Medoc, Grappa, Schnapps and
Sambuca - off
a generic list so that they could enjoy new geographical
CETA would appear to expand that list, though
the government has not provided any specifics:
Geographical indications provide exclusive rights for a product
based on its geographical origin in cases where origin is
considered to confer a particular quality or character to the
product. Canada already recognizes geographical indications for
wines and spirits - for example, French Cognac and Canadian
Whisky. CETA will include a wider recognition of EU geographical
indications for foodstuffs, such as certain meats and cheeses
(e.g., Chabichou du Poitou), that builds upon Canada’s existing
regime for geographical indications.
CETA also effectively confirms that the government will be moving
ahead with its anti-counterfeiting legislation. The summary states:
CETA echoes the government's commitment to combatting trade in
counterfeit goods, which is increasingly a source of concern for
consumers, businesses and governments. Counterfeit goods are often
of poor quality, can be dangerous to the health and safety of
Canadians, and disrupt markets for legitimate companies. CETA will
ensure simple, fair, equitable and cost-effective enforcement
continues, leading to a more predictable regime for intellectual
This suggests that there will be new border measures provisions in
Canada, including the power to seize allegedly infringing goods
without a court order. Once again, the actual text is needed to
compare CETA with current (and proposed) Canadian law.
Canada and the European Union this morning formally announced that it
they have reached an agreement in principle on the Canada - EU Trade
Agreement (CETA) (additional posts on the IP provisions, telecom and e-commerce provisions, and the big win for pharmaceutical companies despite
declining Canadian investment in research and development).
Unfortunately, there was no release of the text and one is apparently
not forthcoming for some time as the government argues that there is
still some drafting and legal analysis needed (and presumably
translation into several languages). However, without the actual text,
the public is forced to rely on summary documents
that merely provide an overview of the agreement. A transparent process
mandates that all Canadians have access to the full text. While the
approval process will take a couple of years, Canada and the EU should
release the draft text now.TagsShareFriday October 18, 2013
The government's Speech from the Throne
was billed in advance as a "consumers-first" agenda with Industry
Minister James Moore talking up initiatives such as tackling wireless
roaming fees and the unbundling of cable television packages over the
weekend. Yet it turns out the consumers-first agenda is pretty thin: the
roaming fee issue may be limited to domestic roaming (an issue that is
invisible to many wireless customers), the unbundling will be useful for
some though not all television subscribers, and promising enhanced
broadband in rural communities is a far cry from committing to universal
broadband access for all Canadians by 2015 (other issues such as the
anti-digital economy measure of banning extra fees for paper bills is
hardly worth mentioning and an airline passenger bill of rights wasn't
Perhaps the real intended focus is a celebration-first agenda as the
speech emphasizes that "Canada's Confederation is worth celebrating."
The government therefore commits to marking the 150th anniversary of the
Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, to celebrating the 200th
birthdays of Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. Macdonald, the
centennial of the first world war, and the 75th anniversary of the second world war.
Read More ...
TagsShareThursday October 17, 2013
Of course, the real focus of the speech isn't birthday celebrations
or consumers. From a digital issues perspective, it is what the
speech doesn't say that is important:
- It doesn't say the government will advance long-overdue
privacy reforms for both the private sector and the government.
- It doesn't say the government will address the myriad of
shortcomings with the access-to-information system.
- It doesn't say Canada will sign and enact the Marrakesh Treaty
on the Visually Impaired, the world's first copyright user
- It doesn't say the government will fix the woeful oversight
and review of Canada's surveillance activities.
- It doesn't say that lawful access won't return (in fact it
hints that it might).
- It doesn't say that the remaining foreign investment
restrictions for telecom and broadcast will be removed.
- It doesn't say that it plans to increase the term of patent
protection, thereby adding billions to health care costs (even
though that is precisely what it plans to do as part of the
Canada - EU Trade Agreement).
- It doesn't say that it may undo the same copyright reforms it
just finished enacting and promoting (which it may be required
to do as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership)
The television bundling and roaming fee issues are good as far as
they go, but to suggest that this legislative agenda puts consumers
first is to ignore a myriad of crucial issues that are absent from
one of the longest throne speeches in recent years.
The Royal Bank of Canada updated its mobile
application for Android users earlier this month. Like many
banking apps, the RBC version allows users to view account balances,
pay bills, and find bank branches from their smartphone. Yet when
users tried to install the app, they were advised that the bank
would gain access to a wide range of personal data.
The long list of personal data - far longer than that found in
comparable applications from banks such as TD Canada Trust or Bank
of Montreal - included permission to use the device's camera, to
read the user's call history, to access the user's Internet browsing
habits, and to even check out their browser bookmarks. After users
took to Twitter and the Google app review section to complain, RBC
advised that it would update the app and that users should "stay
tuned" about the permission requirements.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto
Star version, homepage version) notes that RBC is not alone in
requiring users to disclose more personal information in order to
access services. Aeroplan, the loyalty program linked to Air Canada,
sent an email last week to hundreds of thousands of Canadians
notifying them that it too was changing its data collection
Read More ...
The company disclosed that holders of its popular financial credit
cards (which can be used to earn Aeroplan points based on total
spending) will soon be required to grant it access to detailed
financial activity. Starting next year, Aeroplan will be privy to
all cardholder transactions, including merchant names, transaction
amounts, and dates of the transactions.
The personal data grab from two of Canada's best-known companies is
part of a disturbing privacy trend involving a seemingly insatiable
desire for customer information. These demands stretch Canadian
privacy law to its limits and run the risk of placing user data at
risk for security breaches.
Canadian privacy law requires organizations to obtain consent for
the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. The
basic premise is that privacy is a negotiated bargain in which
companies can ask for permission to do virtually anything with the
personal information they collect so long as users grant their
The law does contain an important limitation, however, stating that
"an organization shall not, as a condition of the supply of a
product or service, require an individual to consent to the
collection, use, or disclosure of information beyond that required
to fulfil the explicitly specified, and legitimate purposes." In
other words, companies can ask for whatever information they believe
is reasonable under the circumstances, but they cannot mandate the
disclosure if it is not strictly necessary to supply the good or
Despite the legal limitations, the RBC and Aeroplan policies
illustrate how companies have become increasingly aggressive in
their personal information collection practices. Companies use data
mining technologies (the same ones used by intelligence agencies to
comb through the meta data of billions of telephone calls) to
analyze customer habits and inform a wide range of business
Some uses may seem relatively innocuous, yet the practice of
collecting as much data as possible raises serious concerns.
The risk of a security breach increases as companies capture and
retain more and more information. This is particularly true for
sensitive financial data, which is now accessed by more than just a
regulated financial institution.
Moreover, the collection practices push the legal envelope by
requiring disclosures that are not strictly necessary to maintain a
loyalty program or offer a mobile app. There have been relatively
few complaints to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada on these
issues, which may be a product of a public that has become
increasingly cynical about the potential for privacy laws to stop
invasive practices from both government and the private sector. Yet
as companies seek mountains of customer data, it may be time for
consumers to start saying no.
TagsShareWednesday October 16, 2013
The government's Speech from the Throne is set for this Wednesday with a
"consumer first" agenda reportedly a focal point of the upcoming
legislative agenda. Industry Minister James Moore discussed
the speech over the weekend, pointing to a range of targets including
wireless competition, wireless roaming fees, and the bundling of
television channels that forces millions of consumers to purchase
channels they do not want. Moore says
that the government will require cable and satellite providers to offer
a pick-and-pay option to consumers, though it is not clear which
legislative tool they will use to do so. I wrote about the forthcoming throne speech last month, pointing to pick-and-pay services as a potential policy reform.
I also wrote about the benefits of a pick-and-pay system last year, arguing
that the "broadcast community has long resisted a market-oriented
approach that would allow consumers to exercise real choice in their
cable and satellite packages, instead demanding a corporate welfare
regulatory framework that guarantees big profits and mediocre
programming." This is particularly true of Bell Media, Canada's largest
media company that has been among the most vocal in opposing consumer
choice. In a hearing
before the CRTC that focused on consumer choice, Bell said that "we are
dreadfully fearful of a penetration decline that would wipe out
revenues that are necessary to support the obligations of these
services." It reiterated its opposition when asked directly, claiming
"there will be a potentially dramatic penetration drop, and hence volume
drop and hence revenue drop, as repackaging moves along the continuum
to, you know, set packaging all the way to standalone."
Read More ...
TagsShareTuesday October 15, 2013
Opponents will warn that a pick-and-pay system could lead to less
choice and higher prices for consumers. Their arguments will focus
on the loss of "cross-subsidization". This occurs where consumers
may individually only watch a handful of channels, but if each watch
different ones, they effectively cross-subsidize their respective
interests. Supporters will claim that without bundles, many channels
will either disappear (the market being too small to support based
solely on consumer choice) or be forced to raise prices in order to
replace lost bundle revenue.
While it is true that the loss of cross-subsidization may hurt some
niche channels, the more competitive broadcast environment will
still leave consumers coming out ahead. First, pick-and-pay will
only be one option since bundles will continue to exist. In
fact, as broadcasters and broadcast distributors to compete for
consumers who now have a pick-and-pay option, they are likely to
respond by offering more attractive bundles to keep consumers paying
for that format.
Second, as more consumers consider dropping cable or satellite for
online services (such as Netflix or other streaming services), the
pick-and-pay model will provide welcome relief, as they can create a
customized model consisting of a mix of Internet-based services
alongside the odd broadcast channel (ie. sports programming) as
needed. Since broadcast distributors also offer Internet services,
consumers will continue to pay either way.
Third, the arrival of pick-and-pay will inject much-needed
competition into the broadcast environment. Niche broadcasters with
small audiences will be forced to adapt by considering alternative
distribution models, new sources of revenue, and other changes in
order to survive in a marketplace where success requires more than
just inclusion in a lucrative bundled package.
The real danger in the months ahead is not less choice (consumers
now have virtually unlimited choice given Internet-based
alternatives) or higher bills (consumers will have the option of
paying more or less but the choice will finally be theirs to make),
but rather the potential for the vertically integrated giants to use
their broadcast distribution power to grant preferential treatment
to their own broadcast properties. Cable and satellite companies
should theoretically welcome the chance to offer more options to
subscribers - including pick-and-pay - but the vertical integration
between broadcasters and broadcast distributors may create
anti-competitive incentives. With Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Videotron
each controlling a major broadcaster, it may make economic sense for
those distributors to prioritize their own channels within bundles
while offering their customers less choice. The government and the
CRTC must safeguard against such activities as they focus on a
transition that places consumers first within the broadcast
This summer, I wrote
about the prospect of a broadcast overhaul that could take a decade
to play itself out. As the first of four major changes, I argued:
there will be growing pressure to eliminate all must-carry rules,
instead adopting a must-offer system in which cable and satellite
companies will be required to offer channels to their end users on
a pick-and-pay basis. Those channels may prove costly, but the
purchasing decisions will lie in the hands of consumers, not
regulators or vertically integrated cable and satellite providers.
Even with pick-and-pay, there will be still be other policy reforms
needed, including the removal of foreign ownership restrictions on
broadcast distributors and a re-examination of the current mandatory
contribution requirement system and simultaneous substitution
Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage launched a consultation
yesterday on the rules associated with the Internet service provider
notice-and-notice system that was established in Bill C-11, the
copyright reform bill enacted in June 2012. Responses to the
consultation are due by November 8, 2013. Most of the bill took effect
in November 2012, but the government delayed implementation of the ISP
rules, with expectation of a consultation and regulations to follow. It
has taken nearly a full year, but the consultation was sent to
undisclosed stakeholders with the promise to bring the notice-and-notice
system into effect "in the near future."
The notice-and-notice system allows copyright owners to send
infringement notices to ISPs, who will be legally required to forward
the notification to their subscribers. If an ISP fails to forward the
notifications, it must explain why or face the prospect of damages that
run as high as $10,000. ISPs must also retain information on the
subscriber for six months (or 12 months if court proceedings are
launched). Copyright owners may also send notifications to search
engines, who must remove content that has been removed from the original
source within 30 days. The notices must meet a prescribed form that
includes details on the sender, the copyright works and the alleged
Despite some expectation that the consultation would place several
issues on the table - form issues for notices, data retention, and costs
for notices among them - the language used in the consultation letter
suggests that the government is likely to simply bring the rules as
articulated in the law into effect with no further regulations at all.
Read More ...
It is our goal that a system be in place that is both balanced
and functional; but, most importantly, it must endeavour to deter
infringement. It is not clear at this time that regulation beyond
the legislation will help better achieve this. Therefore, please
provide concrete evidence and empirical data, where available, to
support your views. As our primary goal is to deter infringement,
we will not be consulting on the setting of a fee for the
transmission of notices at this time.
TagsShareThursday October 10, 2013
The government's message is clear: it wants to get the
notice-and-notice system operational and is reluctant to add new
regulations or costs that might further slow that down.
Interestingly, the departmental language on this issue has shifted
in recent months. According to documents
I obtained under the Access to Information Act, earlier drafts of
the letter stated the following:
It is important that the system be balanced and functional for
both copyright owners and internet intermediaries.
That sentence has now been replaced by the prioritization of
It is our goal that a system be in place that is both balanced
and functional; but, most importantly, it must endeavour to deter
Moreover, the documents
obtained under ATIP suggest that the fees for notices was originally
slated for consultation. Its exclusion, along with the move
from balance to infringement, represent wins for the content
industry, which have been opposing efforts to impose fees for
notices and have told government that they have doubts about its
With the cost of cybercrime in Canada on the rise - a new report
released last week by Symantec, a security software vendor, pegged the
cost at $3.1 billion annually - my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports that the Canadian government is quietly
working behind-the-scenes to create a new Internet service provider code
of conduct. If approved, the code would be technically be voluntary for
Canadian ISPs, but the active involvement of government officials
suggests that most large providers would feel pressured to participate.
The move toward an ISP code of conduct would likely form part of a
two-pronged strategy to combat malicious software that can lead to
cybercrime, identity theft, and other harms. First, the long-delayed
anti-spam legislation features new disclosure requirements for the
installation of software along with tough penalties for non-compliance.
Recent comments from Industry Minister James Moore suggest that the
government is ready to bring that law into effect. Second, the code of
conduct would require participants to provide consumers with assistance
should their computers become infected.
Read More ...
TagsShareWednesday October 09, 2013
The proposed code, which is modeled on a similar Australian initiative dubbed the iCode
has been placed on a policy fast-track, with officials hoping to
create a final version by the end of the year. The Australian
version features a standardized notification system that requires
ISPs to alert customers that their computer or electronic device may
be compromised by malicious software (often referred to as botnets).
The notification may include sending the customer to an information
webpage advising them of the threat and the steps needed to address
the problem. Repeated notifications may result in the customer
having their Internet access suspended
The Australian iCode also involves the creation of a comprehensive
resource for ISPs on new cybersecurity threats and a reporting
mechanism from ISPs to a centralized agency that gathers threat
information. The approach has garnered support from other countries.
South Africa adopted
the iCode last year, while both Japan and Germany have implemented
Yet not everyone is convinced that the iCode system actually works.
When the U.S. began considering the Australian system in 2011,
experts questioned its effectiveness. For example, the SANS
Institute looked at the Australian results and concluded that the
reduction in botnets was "insignificant
Moreover, Symantec highlighted the danger of fraudulent
notifications, arguing that they could "aggravate the problem rather
than alleviate it."
Notwithstanding the concerns, the Canadian government appears
convinced that an ISP code of conduct is long overdue. According to
government documents, Industry Canada quietly gathered the major
Canadian ISPs in late July to present the concept of an industry
code and the experience in other countries. The presentation noted
that unlike current Canadian initiatives that do not include direct
consumer support, the proposed code would require consumer
assistance in addition to the creation of education programs,
information sharing, and reporting requirements.
Last month, stakeholders were brought back for a follow-up meeting
where government officials presented an ambitious timeline that
envisions final approval on the code within the next three months.
One way to speed up the process appears to be the exclusion of any
public participation. The government timeline offers several
opportunities for ISPs and other stakeholders it has identified to
comment on the draft code, but does not feature any public
consultations or opportunities for feedback.
Despite the active government involvement, officials have worked
hard to emphasize that the code would be voluntary, claiming that
the approach will demonstrate industry consensus and that "the
regime is not being imposed on the sector by the government."
However, with the public excluded from the process and industry
fears that the code could gradually expand into other issues, the
rushed effort for a Canadian ISP code of conduct may need to slow
down and give way to a more open, inclusive and transparent
On the same day that revelations
about CSEC spying on the Brazilian government for economic purposes
generated headlines around the world, the Canadian government rejected
the proposed acquisition of MTS Allstream's Allstream division by
Accelero Capital Holdings, a company co-founded by Naguib Sawiris, an
Egyptian billionaire who first captured Canadian telecom attention by
backing the entry of Wind Mobile. Industry Minister James Moore indicated
that the rejection of the proposed deal involved the national security
provisions of the Investment Canada Act. Both companies expressed
disappointment with the decision, as MTS Allstream noted its surprise and disappointment and Accelero described it as an "unfounded and unexpected decision."
While the decision sends a disturbing signal about the government's
willingness to block foreign investment just months after indicating
that it was open to such investment, it is worth noting that the change
in telecom foreign investment policy was publicly opposed by the Public
Safety Canada. In 2011, Public Safety responded to Industry Canada
questions about changes to the foreign investment restrictions with the following:
It is important to fully appreciate the scope of the potential impact
of reducing or removing restrictions on foreign investment in Canada's
telecommunications sector. The lessening of current restrictions could
create new, and increase existing vulnerabilities in our
telecommunications networks, further exposing them and the users and
services that rely on them, to an increased threat of cyber espionage
and denial of service attacks. It could also impede law enforcement and
national security investigations by further challenging the ability of
authorities to execute judicially authorized warrants to intercept
telecommunications. As options are considered to maximize Canada's
competitiveness in the telecommunications sector, Public Safety
officials will work with Industry Canada to further develop options to
help ensure that any change to the telecommunications market will be
accompanied by necessary security safeguards.
When the Public Safety submission first came to light last year, the
potential application of the national security provisions in the
Investment Canada Act was discussed.
In light of the MTS Allstream decision, it would seem that Public
Safety may have lost the battle to retain foreign investment
restrictions, but has won the war to keep out many potential
competitors. TagsShareTuesday October 08, 2013
The need for a large-scale Canadian digitization strategy has been
readily apparent for many years, with experts repeatedly pointing to the
benefits that would come from improved access to Canadian history and
culture. While other countries have marched ahead with ambitious
projects that often incorporate historical text records, photographs,
and video, Canada has fallen behind.
Library and Archives Canada, which is charged with preserving and making
accessible Canada’s documentary heritage, has led the digitization
effort, but most of its work over the past decade has failed to bear
Given the past disappointments, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the launch a massive new digitization
project should have been a cause for celebration. Last June, the LAC and
Canadiana, an alliance of public and academic libraries focused on
digital preservation, announced plans to digitize and create metadata on
60 million historical Canadian documents. The documents are currently
in microfiche and the project envisions digitizing the images and adding
transcriptions and metadata (data about data content) to improve their
Yet as the details of the project dubbed Héritage leaked out,
controversy arose with concerns that the historical documents would be
placed behind a paywall that would require individual Canadians to pay
monthly fees for access. That generated a significant outcry from many
groups, with then-Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore assuring the
House of Commons that the new head of LAC would closely examine the
After the outcry subsided, however, Héritage began to proceed largely as
planned. The key supporters of the project - Canadiana, the major
library associations, and the LAC - tried to assure critics that their
concerns were unfounded, promising to make the digitized microfiche
copies freely available to all and restricting additional fees to
value-added services such as transcription or metadata. However, newly
obtained documents under the Access to Information Act raise troubling
questions about public access and promises of exclusivity made by the
Read More ...
TagsShareTuesday October 01, 2013
Among the documents obtained is the previously
between LAC and Canadiana (underlying
). The contract
which was signed in May 2013, does not provide for digital public
access to the documents without a paywall. Rather, the minimum
requirements are that the LAC will provide physical access in its
reading rooms, Canadiana will charge fees for hosting the content,
and at least ten per cent of the collection will be made freely
available online each year. After ten years, the entire collection
will be openly available to the public online.
The contractual terms are inconsistent with public statements that
provided assurances that all digital copies would be publicly
available on completion and that the ten per cent restrictions would
only apply to works with additional transcription or metadata.
Canadiana officials now say that they plan to go beyond the
contractual requirements, yet it is surprising that the LAC did not
insist on full public access within the contract.
The contract also grants Canadiana exclusive rights to host and make
accessible online the entire collection for ten years. However, internal
readily acknowledge that there was nothing to
stop anyone from doing the same thing, since the documents are in
the public domain and there is free access to the physical copies.
In fact, granting exclusivity rights is difficult to reconcile with
the role of the LAC in digitizing the historical records, which is
far more extensive that is generally appreciated. The contract
indicates that the LAC will digitize no less than two-thirds of the
collection. Given that the LAC is doing most of the digitizing and
Canadiana hopes to rely on crowdsourcing techniques for some of the
transcription and metadata, the extensive public contribution
creates real doubts about the need for any paywall or exclusivity.
The Héritage project promises to offer unprecedented access to
Canadian historical documents. Yet the fine print of the agreement
may leave many wondering how a deal could have been reached without
mandating free online public access, while granting exclusive rights
that do not exist.
The 35th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners
wraps up today in Warsaw, Poland. The conference has become an
important annual event, facilitating greater global cooperation on
privacy and providing the commissioners with a venue to speak out on key
privacy issues. This year, the commissioners issued one declaration (on the "appification" of society) and nine resolutions. The resolutions cover a wide range of issues including profiling, international enforcement, anchoring privacy in international law, and web tracking.
Yet despite the enormous public attention to surveillance issues over
the past few months, there are no specific resolutions on the issue. In fact,
surveillance is only mentioned once, in a resolution
on openness of personal data practices which urges organizations to be
more open about their practices and adds that governments should do the
same. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
abstained from voting on the resolution due to the reference to
governments. The U.S. may have been particularly uncomfortable with the
final paragraph in the explanatory note:
Read More ...
Recent revelations about government surveillance programs have
prompted calls for greater openness with respect to the scope of
these programs, increased oversight and accountability of these
programs and more transparency from the private sector
organisations that are required to provide personal data to
governments. The revelations have also occasioned debate about the
appropriate level of transparency associated with such programs in
light of relevant national security, public safety and public
TagsShareThursday September 26, 2013
The abstention highlights the challenge global privacy commissioners
face in finding consensus on surveillance concerns. Interestingly,
while the commissioners struggled to tackle the surveillance issue,
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had no hesitation in addressing
the issue directly at the United Nations, where she argued
In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true
freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective
democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is
no basis for the relationship among nations.
The strong speech recognized that there is a need to speak out
loudly on surveillance. It is discouraging that the world's privacy
and data protection commissioners seemed to struggle to do so and
faced U.S. opposition to the only reference to the issue.