Latest Posts

No Internet by Marcelo Graciolli (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/5h48hK

Canadian Internet Providers Warn of Site Blocking Consequences: Threat to Affordable Internet Access and Market Competition

Given that Canadian consumers pay some of the highest fees among peer countries for Internet and wireless access, the federal government has increasingly emphasized the need to address Internet affordability. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told the House of Commons that “Canadians pay enough for their Internet” and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains echoed the same concerns in a speech last year, noting that high costs create a digital divide that represents a barrier to continued prosperity for Canadians.

The Internet access cost concerns seems likely to emerge as a key issue in response to the Bell coalition website blocking plan. While some have tried to deflect the cost concern by pointing to the purported anti-piracy benefits of blocking (a claim that is subject to considerable dispute in the CRTC submissions), the clear position of the majority of Canadian providers – whether independent ISPs, cable companies, or satellite-based providers – is that the costs associated with blocking are likely to lead to increased consumer costs, reduced competition, and risks to extending broadband services to under-served areas.

Read more ›

April 6, 2018 7 comments News
RTBF event http://www.cjf-fjc.ca/j-talks/striking-balance-privacy-and-freedom-expression-digital-age

Striking the Balance: Privacy and Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age

The Canadian Journalism Foundation and CIPPIC partnered on a terrific event yesterday on privacy and freedom of expression in the digital age.  The event, held at the Globe and Mail Centre in Toronto, focused on the right to be forgotten. It included conversations with Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien, Google’s Peter Fleischer, and a debate between David Fraser and Keith Rose. I was featured on the final panel in a conversation with the Globe and Mail’s Susan Krashinsky Robertson. The discussion, embedded below, focused on a wide range of privacy issues, including the need to update PIPEDA, pressure from the EU to improve Canada’s privacy law, how to foster meaningful consent, and the right to be forgotten.

Read more ›

April 5, 2018 0 comments News
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.

Read more ›

April 5, 2018 5 comments Columns
Anthem Breach Notification by Tony Webster https://flic.kr/p/setXj5 (CC BY 2.0)

Coming Soon (or at least by November): Government Sets a Date for Data Breach Disclosure Rules To Take Effect

Several years after passing into law, the Canadian government has finally set an effective date for long-overdue data breach disclosure rules. The requirements were included in the Digital Privacy Act that was passed in 2015, but the accompanying regulations literally took years to finalize. Earlier this year, I argued that the failure to expedite security breach disclosure rules was an embarrassing failure for successive Conservative and Liberal governments, placing the personal information of millions of Canadians at risk and effectively giving a free pass to companies that do not adequately safeguard their customers’ information.

Read more ›

April 4, 2018 2 comments News
IMG_0207 by wyliepoon https://flic.kr/p/8Q7Ef3 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Telus’ Website Blocking Submission: No Copyright Expertise Needed and No Net Neutrality Violation if Everyone is Doing It

Telus was not a charter member of the Bell website blocking coalition, but there was never much doubt that the last of the big incumbents would side with the application. Most of the independent and smaller telecom companies have opposed the proposal (and even the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association cannot bring itself to state that it supports the plan), but Canada is not known for competition among the big incumbents and this issue was no different. Indeed, the Telus submission supports the application, but relies on remarkably weak and somewhat head-scratching analysis to arrive at its conclusion that the proposal meets the necessary legal standards.

Read more ›

April 3, 2018 3 comments News