Ten Players Who Will Shape Tech Law and Policy in 2010

Predictions about future technology law and policy developments are always fraught with uncertainty, yet identifying the key players is a somewhat easier chore.  Although Parliament is not scheduled to resume until March, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) tracks ten who are likely to lead the way in Canada in the coming year.

Tony Clement, federal Industry Minister.  From anti-spam legislation to the national copyright consultation, Clement demonstrated a keen interest in technology issues during his first year as industry minister.  2010 should be no different, with privacy reform legislation, a new copyright bill, and rules for another wireless spectrum auction all on the agenda.  To top it off, Clement has sent strong signals that he wants to forge ahead with a long-overdue national digital strategy.

James Moore, federal Canadian Heritage Minister.  Young, bilingual, and tech-savvy, Moore broke the mould for a minister of Canadian heritage. This year will present Moore with at least two highly contentious issues likely to leave many unhappy: copyright reform and fee-for-carriage for television broadcast signals.

Stockwell Day, federal International Trade Minister.  The link between international trade and tech policy is not immediately obvious, yet two trade initiatives mean that Day may ultimately dictate policy to his cabinet counterparts Clement and Moore.  The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the Canada – European Union Trade Agreement both fall under his mandate and feature detailed intellectual property provisions.

Peter Van Loan, federal Public Safety Minister.  Van Loan is responsible for Bills C-46 and C-47, the controversial lawful access legislation that died last week with the decision to prorogue Parliament.  Part security, part privacy, and part Internet, the legislation likely will be reintroduced and face stiff opposition when it comes before a House of Commons committee in 2010.

Charlie Angus, NDP digital affairs critic.  The only opposition member to make the list, Angus is frequently the sole voice on digital policy issues on Parliament Hill.  With the Liberal Party seemingly unable to muster a coherent digital policy, Angus has filled the void by introducing net neutrality legislation, injecting himself into the copyright debate, and providing a consistent voice for artists’ concerns.

Konrad von Finckenstein, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.  Coming off a busy year, von Finckenstein will remain in the spotlight in 2010.  The CRTC’s fee-for-carriage decision will become an immediate lightning rod for praise or criticism (likely both), while the commission’s enforcement efforts on the do-not-call registry and net neutrality guidelines will face intense scrutiny.

Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Stoddart enters the final year of her seven-year term with an opportunity to leave her mark on privacy in Canada.  Her Facebook decision garnered international attention in 2009, leaving Stoddart with considerable capital to play an influential role on lawful access, privacy reform, and anti-spam legislation.

Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative.  Kirk is the leading figure on U.S. trade policy.  U.S. trade officials will undoubtedly claim that Canadian laws are inadequate and Kirk will therefore maintain maximum pressure on Canada on behalf of U.S. lobby interests.

David Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to Canada.  Jacobson had scarcely unpacked after being confirmed to the post this fall before he was criticizing Canadian intellectual property laws.  Working together with Kirk, Jacobson will provide ample evidence that a change in administration does not mean a change in attitude on digital policy.

Thousands of online Canadians.  Last year demonstrated that Canadians are keenly aware of digital issues and willing to actively voice their views.  Record numbers participated in the copyright consultation, thousands submitted comments to the CRTC on net neutrality, and more than 100,000 emailed their views on the fee-for-carriage debate.  Combining passion with Internet technologies, the power of the individual has thrust digital policies to the forefront, enabling individual Canadians to ensure their concerns are factored into the decision-making process.


  1. Ten Players Who Will Shape Tech Law and Policy in 2010
    It occurs to me that the list should go to 11 (no Spinal Tap jokes)and include Michael Geist.
    Your work at getting the word out on various related issues appears to be read and referenced by several parties on the list.
    The sad thing is it may be better understood by the “Thousands of online Canadians” than the people charged with making the decisions, who IMO for the large part miss the big picture or operate under a self blinding hidden agenda.

  2. Peter Hillier says:

    All the best to you and your colleagues for a collaborative 2010 Michael!

  3. Where is Canadian industry?
    I noticed that the list consisted of four government ministers, one political critic, two appointees to governmental agencies, two appointees by the US government, and the Canadian public.

    Where is Canadian industry, broadcasters, content producers, provinces, universities and the other political parties?

  4. Have to disagree
    Almost nothing about Canadian tech law and policy will be decided in Canada or by Canadians in 2010. Almost every thing will be decided for us by Americans and Europeans. Only one Canadian will have any real input at all and that is the Prime Minister who’s policy is to abandon control in Canada and give it to who ever asks for it abroad. He can’t seem to give up his failed dream where if we always do what some one has done before us we will some how get ahead of them.

    It is time the PM understood that when other countries dictate we do things they are never doing it in our best interest.

  5. Konrad von Finckenstein should not be the only guilty party at CRTC. CRTC have done a bad job before Mr. Finckenstein’s arrival. Just like the captain of a sink ship, he should be held responsible for not making everyone under him to work for the good of the Canadian people (not corporations).

    Everyone who is working under him should also be blamed for their failures for not doing their JOB for the Canadian people in spite of the leadership of Mr. Finckenstein.

    As for the online voices, the total effects on CRTC and cabinet’s decision on the internet = ZERO.

  6. Another missing : Copyright board of Canada
    The copyright board could also be added to this list, as it’s decisions can make or break full segments of online content availibility. By example, a bad tariff on podcasting could kill it in Canada (as it will do in the US), same for anything containing music or video content.

    I think the impact on the Internet is also huge.