The Letters of the Law: The Year in Canadian Technology Law and Policy

There was rarely a dull moment over the past twelve months in law and technology with no shortage of legislative proposals, controversial court cases, and very public battles over the future of the Internet in Canada.  My final technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) takes a look back at 2008 from A to Z:

A is for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the still-secret treaty being negotiated by a handful of countries (including Canada) that has generated fears of iPod-searching border guards.  A new round of negotiations were recently concluded in Europe with further discussions planned for 2009.

B is for Bell, which emerged as the big winner in a dispute at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission over the legality of "traffic shaping" by Internet service providers.  A follow-up hearing on net neutrality is set for July 2009.

C is for Canadian Internet Registration Authority, which manages the dot-ca domain.  CIRA launched a revised WHOIS framework in 2008 that establishes some restrictions on the public accessibility of domain name registrant information.

D is for the good news/bad news experience with the Do-Not-Call list.  The good news was that the list, which took effect in September, garnered millions of registrations within weeks.  The bad news was that the registrations were soon followed by thousands of complaints from frustrated Canadians who experienced little reduction in unwanted telemarketing calls.

E is for eBay, which lost a Federal Court of Appeal decision on whether the online auction site could be compelled to reveal the identity of Canadian "powersellers" to the Canada Revenue Agency.

F is for FACIL, a Quebec group that supports open source software.  It filed a lawsuit against the Quebec government over its restrictive tendering processes.

G is for Adam Guerbuez, a Montreal-based spammer who was ordered to pay Facebook $873 million in damages, the largest-ever award under U.S. anti-spam legislation.
H is for Canadian Heritage, which was under fire all year over planned culture cuts and proposed legislation to grant the Minister of Canadian Heritage veto power over funding for "objectionable" films.

I is for the iPhone, which made its Canadian debut and was the impetus for a heated debate over the competitiveness of Canadian wireless pricing.

J is for Jim Prentice, who as Industry Minister presided over the tabling of controversial copyright reform legislation and the auction of new spectrum for wireless services that unexpectedly generated more than $4 billion in revenue.

K is for Konrad von Finckenstein, the CRTC chair who, in an exceptionally busy year, introduced the do-not-call list and began to deal with net neutrality, the future of broadcasting, and new media regulation.

L is for the enhanced licences that will be introduced in the Province of Ontario following the passage this year of enabling legislation.  The new licences raised both privacy and security concerns.

M is for Professor Richard Moon, the University of Windsor law professor who released a report on the Canadian Human Rights Act at the request of the Human Rights Commission.  Moon recommended that a provision extending the law to the Internet be dropped.

N is for Net neutrality, which emerged as a mainstream issue in 2008 with a private members bill, a public rally on Parliament Hill that attracted hundreds of participants, and a commitment to hearings at the CRTC.  

O is for the Online pharmaceutical industry, which faced the prospect of shutting down in Manitoba following the introduction of new rules restricting the practice.

P is for Pickup Pal, the ride sharing service that was forced to change its Ontario operations after Trentway-Wagar, an Ontario bus company, filed a complaint with the Ontario Transportation Board over the legality of the service.

Q is for Quebec Torrent, the BitTorrent search site that folded in the face of a lawsuit by several groups.  The suit was one of several involving Canadian-based torrent sites.

R is for Ryerson University, which attracted considerable attention over a threat to expel a student for establishing a Facebook study group in contravention of a professor’s policy.

S is for SOCAN, which lost a request at the Copyright Board of Canada for the application of a new levy for music available on websites such as Facebook and Google.

T is for text messages, which emerged as a surprisingly hot topic when several wireless carriers imposed a fifteen cent fee on receipt of the messages for some subscribers.

U is for unsolicited commercial email, which languished as a legislative priority, though Senator Yoine Goldstein grew tired of the delays and introduced his own anti-spam bill.

V is for the vote swapping websites that popped up during the federal election. Elections Canada ruled that the sites were legal.
W is for the Wikimedia Foundation (the operator of the popular Wikipedia site), which won an important legal battle over cyber-libel when a B.C. court ruled that merely linking to content did not amount to re-publication.

X is for anonymizing technologies, such as Pshiphon, which was developed at the University of Toronto.  These technologies attracted global attention as several countries escalated their Internet censorship activities.

Y is for Yahoo, one of many corporate giants who formed the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright to argue for a fair approach to copyright reform in Canada.

Z is for, one of several Canadian domain name dispute resolution cases involving high-profile brands.  Others included domains referencing the blackberry, Burberry, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Staples.


  1. Bell canada cuts off persons phne and prevents him form getting another
    Thank you for choosing TekSavvy for your Home Phone needs!

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    I need ot call to make appointment to see doctor how do i do this with this crap going on, htey cut my phone off due too:

    which they shouldn’t now they “prorogue” my ability to gt a phone i need that done immediately.

  2. The teksavvy response shortly thereafter
    Your home phone order was rejected as your current Bell TN has no pending disconnect. Therefore, this is blocking our order to go through.

    Please call Bell to ensure that your current TN with them gets disconnected.

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  3. Poet who didn’t know it
    Oh Copyright,

    This idea is mine, not yours
    It’s here to stay, for a hundred years or more
    Not original but it’s close enough
    To claim it as my own
    Internationally, it is my property
    It’s fair to keep what I was shown
    Internet and Science, keep your hands off me
    O Copyright, progress should not be free
    O Copyright, education should not be free

  4. PROOF GOVT is useless..readon
    response form CRTC about bell TV allowing 850$ bill to stand even htough customer has not only proof they should not but then allowing his other bell service the telphone to get deactivated then im told its not YET i have no dial tone nor phone service so i cant get a phone wiht another provider

    heres the CCTS response

    > Thank you for contacting the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). The CCTS is an independent agency with a mandate to receive, facilitate the resolution of, and, if necessary, resolve eligible consumer and small business complaints relating to certain retail telecommunications services.
    > The scope of CCTS’ mandate is set out on our website: http://www.ccts-cprstca
    > Unfortunately, this matter is not an Eligible Complaint within the meaning of our Procedural Code and is therefore not within the scope or mandate of the CCTS. Bell express vu is considered a “broadcasting service” and as such falls outside the purview of our mandate. Therefore, the CCTS cannot process your complaint. The Procedural Code can be found at:
    > You may wish to contact the CRTC at 1-877-249-2782 or your TSP at 1-866-317-3382 as they may be able to assist you with this matter. We have forwarded your complaint to your TSP for their information.
    > If you have any questions or concerns regarding your complaint, or anything contained in this correspondence, please do not hesitate to contact us.
    > CCTS
    > P.O. Box 81088
    > Ottawa, ON
    > K1P 1B1
    > 1-888-221-1687
    > Sincerely,
    > CCTS Assessment Team
    So a satellite is not telecommunications ?
    What the hell is it then?
    cellphones are not part of telecommunications i gather….
    Looks to me like another useless piece a crap and im now going ot have no choice but to sue these pecker heads at BCE …. thanks form welfare land to having to spend 75$ of my food money and merry ho ho ho to you all

  5. OH and ya
    NOTE what i have to do here

  6. RIAA lawsuits list(partial list only) YOU GET THE IDEA
    ” Despite the RIAA’s announcement last week that it’s dropping its legal assault, ”

    A partial list of the newest cases ( filed AFTER the claimed to have stopped filing cases ) ..

    Atlantic Recording v. Williams 08-1710 W.D. Pennsylvania 12/15/08
    Sony BMG Music v. Linus 08-14413 S.D. Florida 12/11/08
    Arista Records v. Estrada 08-8135 C.D. California 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Haralambos 08-8129 C.D. California 12/10/08
    SONY BMG Music v. Estrada 08-2682 D. Colorado 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Doe 6 08-1882 D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Arista Records v. Doe 4 08-1877 D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Doe 5 08-1284 D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Doe 2 08-1878 D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Doe 3 08-1879 D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Capitol Records v. Fowler 08-2141 D. District of Columbia 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Mekawi 08-2142 D. District of Columbia 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Hensley 08-534 M.D. Florida 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Jackson 08-544 N.D. Florida 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Blueford 08-119 M.D. Georgia 12/10/08
    Warner Bros. Records v. Umbaugh 08-118 M.D. Georgia 12/10/08
    SONY BMG Music v. Simms 08-3728 N.D. Georgia 12/10/08
    Warner Bros. Records v. Wade 08-3727 N.D. Georgia 12/10/08
    Capitol Records v. Williams-Ali 08-156 S.D. Iowa 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Decort 08-7053 N.D. Illinois 12/10/08
    SONY BMG Music v. Shane 08-7055 N.D. Illinois 12/10/08
    SONY BMG Music v. Byers 08-189 S.D. Indiana 12/10/08
    Capitol Records v. Trusty 08-190 S.D. Indiana 12/10/08
    Elektra Entertainment v. Maphet 08-1386 D. Kansas 12/10/08
    Atlantic Recording v. Sanderson 08-1385 D. Kansas 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Gulledge 08-cv-00973-MHT-TFM M.D. Alabama 12/10/08
    Warner Bros. Records Kelley 08-cv-02295-CLS N.D. Alabama 12/10/08
    SONY BMG Music v. Van Ornum 08-cv-04205-JLH E.D. Arkansas 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Tabor 08-cv-03068-JLH W.D. Arkansas 12/10/08
    BMG Music v. O’Brien 08-cv-02244-HRH D. Arizona 12/10/08
    Priority Records v. Easterling 08-cv-08131-PA-JTL C.D. California 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Ibarzabal 08-cv-08136-R-SH C.D. California 12/10/08
    Interscope Records v. Doe 4 08-cv-01880-JBA D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Arista Records v. Doe 2 08-cv-01874-CFD D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    Arista Records v. Doe 3 08-cv-01876-SRU D. Connecticut 12/10/08
    UMG Recordings v. Burmeister 08-cv-02295-MPM-DGB C.D. Illinois 12/10/08

    A group that is willing to lie in court has no issues lying to the press, especially press that they

  7. dawnalucille says:

    the far reaches of a so called democratic society
    it may be hard for some to understand democracy is a word bantered around so easily………but is not a reality we are governed from coffee to when do you really own your property no garage can be built without permission, now this isohunt and other search engines, sorry folks reality is we live in a police state, as i see it they are one of the most powerful gangs allowed to where there colors………….