Come back with a warrant by Rosalyn Davis (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Come back with a warrant by Rosalyn Davis (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Lawful Access

Canada to Launch Cybersecurity Task Force?

In April 2004, the Liberal government released a report on Canada’s National Security Policy that included plans to establish a public-private cybersecurity task force.  More than two years later, it appears that the Conservative government is preparing to follow through on that commitment by launching its own task force.  Although […]

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May 24, 2006 Comments are Disabled News

The Legal Limits of Government Tinkering With Technology

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) uses the recent French Parliament law involving interoperability and Apple's DRM as the basis for a discussion of governments that tinker with technology through regulation.  The law should be understood as a logical reaction to mounting consumer frustration with technological limitations on their purchases and a desire for balance in copyright. 

Although the French law may appear to be unique, many governments regularly tinker with technology through regulation.  For example, the Liberal government last year introduced "lawful access" legislation that would have required Internet service providers to dramatically overhaul their networks by inserting new surveillance technologies.  Similarly, the U.S. established "broadcast flag" requirements that would have mandated the inclusion of copy-controls within a wide range of electronic devices (a court struck the requirements down as unconstitutional).

Moreover, experience demonstrates that the private sector may not respond to consumer demands to offer compatible products.  The satellite radio market provides a recent example, with the two major providers – XM and Sirius – steadfastly refusing to offer a device that supports both services despite the fact that they have jointly developed just such a product.

With government intervention looming as a possibility and the private market unlikely to resolve compatibility concerns, what principles should regulators adopt to provide all stakeholders with greater certainty about the appropriate circumstances for lawmakers to tinker with technology?

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April 18, 2006 3 comments Columns


Yesterday's Speech from the Throne matched expectations as the focus was unsurprisingly on the Conservatives' five priorities.  There were, however, several noteworthy inclusions and omissions.  While there was no specific mention of copyright and the WIPO Treaties, Howard rightly points out that speech did say that "significant treaties will be […]

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April 5, 2006 Comments are Disabled News

The Risk of Lawful Access

Bruce Schneier points to a recent incident in Greece where about 100 politicians and political leaders were subject to mobile phone wiretapping. Schneier points out that the wiretapping was facilitated by new network surveillance requirements, which were then used by the "bad guys" for their own purposes.  A good lesson […]

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March 1, 2006 Comments are Disabled News

The Year in Canadian Tech Law From A to Z

My last weekly Law Bytes column of 2005, features my annual A to Z review of the year in Canadian law and technology (Toronto Star version, freely available version).  From legislative proposals involving copyright, network surveillance, and Internet pharmacies to case law focused on popular consumer products such as the […]

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December 25, 2005 1 comment Columns