Privacy Commissioner of Canada Warns Against Weakening Privacy Through Canadian DMCA

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart has issued a public letter to Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Canadian Heritage Minister Josee Verner warning against copyright reforms that "could have a negative impact on the privacy rights of Canadians." 

The letter focuses on the anti-circumvention provisions, which Stoddart notes would weaken privacy protections for Canadians "if changes to the Copyright Act authorized the use of technical mechanisms to protect copyrighted material that resulted in the collection, use and disclosure of personal information without consent."  She also highlights the potential impact of mandated data retention under a notice-and-notice system, concluding that "allowing a private sector organization to require an ISP to retain personal information is a precedent-setting provision that would seriously weaken privacy protections."

The outcry against the Canadian DMCA have largely centered on the U.S. influence in crafting the bill and its effect on education and consumer rights.  Stoddart’s public letter provides an important reminder that it is more than just copyright law that hangs in the balance as the government's plans could ultimately place Canadians' privacy at risk.

Update:  The Stoddart letter is the focus of my technology law column this week (Toronto Star version, homepage version).  Ars Technica covers it as well. 


  1. But you are suggesting a notice-and-notice regime! Anyway, I imagime if the govt doesn’t like what she says, she’ll get the same treatment as Linda Keen who got fired specifically because she did do her job

  2. Michael Geist says:

    Notice and Notice
    Yes – I think notice and notice is a better (and more effective) system than notice and takedown. The Privacy Commissioner is expressing concern with one element of the notice and notice system, namely a requirement to retain subscriber data for a lengthy period. That issue could be addressed while still keeping notice and notice in place.

  3. Claude Gelinas
    Copyrights are bad for everybody, except the copyright holder(s).

    Since most valuable copyrights have been snapped up by the transnationals who happen to enjoy virtually unlimited legal resources to squash any “regular” human being looking to develop similarly minded ideas, the innovation stream has pretty much dried up in the “heavily copyrighted” fields.

    Who will take the chance to create new content when posting it publicly only exposes this innovator to lawsuits from trolls and long-teethed sharks only interested in “protecting their copyrights”, even when their claim is ridiculous (remember, they have all the money in the world)?

    Copyrights are the epitome of what’s wrong in our world.

    The less copyrights there are, the more people will be free to piggy-back on other ideas to accelerate the stream of innovation.

    At a time when our civilization faces great challenges, the copyright system, current or proposed, suffers the same problem: it’s completely inadequate, counter-productive and suicidal, from the general public’s point of view.

    The madness of copyrights must be ended, now.

  4. Accelerando
    Talking about accelerating there is a novel by Charles Stross about future, high tech and copyrights downloadoble for free here [ link ]

    “hard-liners representing the Copyright Control Association of America are pressing for restrictions on duplicating the altered emotional states associated with specific media performances”

  5. I’m always skeptical of copyright terms. As soon as a CD or DVD is reissued, it’s copyright is effectively renewed (ie: A Beatles CD gets reissued this year it says “© 2008”). How long before THAT copyright reverts to public domain?

    Also, any copyrighted works that have DRM and revert to public domain effectively never escape the DRM shackles, EVER.

  6. grunt
    I AM the lone nut he\’s complaining about.

    todays random thought is about infinite ecos (the web), royality ecos (radio) and industrail ones.

    disaster captialism in services (radio eco) looks like a trend to me.

    offically, that\’s insane.