Government Plans National Digital Economy Consultation

The Canadian Press reports that the government plans to launch a national digital economy strategy consultation, with a discussion paper inviting public comment to be announced shortly.


  1. I hate the sound of anything with the words “Digital Economy” in it.

    Oh that’s right, probably because the UK is about to be assraped tomorrow with their Digital Economy Bill.

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  3. Shouldn’t this been done parallel to the copyright consultation? The government looks a bit unorganized with this announcement. I think they can take most of their digital economy strategy from the responses they have received with respect to the copyright consultation. Will this touch up on copyright “again”, or will the government be limiting the responses to economics, not copyright law with respect to this new consultation?

  4. Not copyright – again..
    Jason, I am pretty sure this is a separate issue. Although there may be many that would like to tightly link these 2 issues, they are really unrelated in their focus. Although I agree that many of the comments in the copyright consultation touch upon and may apply here, they only apply in a narrow part of a “digital economy”.

    Online shopping and inter-provincial and inter-country issues (taxes?? duty??).
    Online education opportunities (ongoing education?).
    High speed infrastructure inequalities.
    Voice over IP quality and availability.
    Mobile data applications and delivery.
    Privacy issues.

    This is bigger than, and sideways from, copyright issues. In my mind, this is the topic that should have been on the table before we even approached copyright issues.

  5. We still haven’t found out how much of a fail the last one was. Yes the responses are posted online but how many of those responses translated into policy is what I’d like to know before I give a word of my opinion to another consultation.

  6. Ryan.. If our elected government doesn’t develop policy based on our input, there will be a different government soon enough.

    But if you give up and don’t present your opinion, then when we *do* get a government that listens, you – and they – won’t know.

    So don’t give up.

  7. Re: oldguy
    “This is bigger than, and sideways from, copyright issues.”

    I disagree. Actions taken directly on consumers relating to copyright will have a direct impact on the digital economy, and possibly the connectivity of consumers participating in the digital marketplace. In order to foster in a solid digital economic policy, government has to acknowledge the current economics in play and the change in business models some industries are fighting against, and not base their decisions on ideology, rather what’s happening on the ground. I think a lot of this was discussed during the copyright consultation.

    Innovation within the digital economy is also tied into the copyright debate.

  8. “Innovation within the digital economy is also tied into the copyright debate.”
    This part I agree with.

    But there are a lot of other factors in any discussion about a digital economy. I mentioned one of them above – taxes. We have a federal GST, and we have (most provinces) provincial taxes (PST). If I locally sell something in Alberta, I don’t collect PST. If I locally sell in Ontario, I collect (at least for now) PST separately from GST. If I sell in Nova Scotia, I collect a harmonized HST. It gets even more interesting when my “business presence” is in Manitoba and I sell online to these other provinces. From a business perspective it’s a mess to manage, and from a customer perspective it’s indecipherable.

    Then look at other factors like urban/rural service levels, basic skills, traffic shaping policies, open government data, and much more. Some of these areas copyright will touch upon, but others have zero intersection with copyright issues. There are things relevant to a copyright discussion that have nothing to do with a digital services economy. The “focus” is different.

    So while I agree there is an intersection and interdependence of issues concerned with copyright and a digital economy, neither discussion is a subset or superset of the other. The “focus” is quite different.

    Let me try a crude analogy (and yes, it’s just an analogy). Build an “improved transportation economy” which focuses on the best locations and connections for roads, railways, airports, etc. You have to consider things like population densities, resource and manufacturing locations, and traffic flows. But you really don’t care about the success or failure of individual restaurants along the routes. You don’t even care about the mapmakers that build a business based on planning or optimizing routing through the new system. You do take these things into consideration (make sure there is enough usable space around that “junction” to support X amount of businesses), but you don’t get into the details of planning how many fast food vs multi-ethnic vs fine dinning establishments are located at each junction. At a high level you know these things will happen, and it is part of your “economic” numbers, but you don’t get into the fine details. You don’t allow the Restaurant Owners Association or the Public Health Board or the mapmakers to dictate planning in any way. Different focus.
    Yeah, I know – poor analogy. Best I can come up with quickly. Give me a week or 3, I’ll do better. Hope it gives you an idea where I’m coming from.

  9. Re: oldguy
    I agree with what your saying completely. There are other issues that need to be addressed with respect to the digital economy. I’ve been studying this economy for the past 2 years. I’m directly effected by it as a software developer, and in my hobby which is music. The copyright debate has been twisted into something that’s morally “right” or “wrong”, “legal” and “illegal”, when the appropriate more independent look is more towards who has control over this marketplace (copyright debate has NEVER been about money, it’s about market control and share), which will have a profound impact on the digital economy on all industries.

    If what I’m saying is untrue, then there wouldn’t be a need for a digital economy nor copyright public consultation. The digital media market would be flourishing, and all aspects of law would reflect on what the consumers want and need in this marketplace. Industry would be driving this change instead they are fighting it for their own self severing purposes.

    The future of media is free, and the future of software is in “the cloud”. The less we recognize this, the longer and dangerous path we take to not having a digital economy to debate about. People are getting fed up, and it doesn’t take much to “log off” completely.

  10. Re: oldguy
    I think the appropriate thing to do is to watch the UK right now especially over the next several months before opening up a consultation. They just passed their “Digital Economy Bill” which included the 3 strikes law. I’d be very interested in seeing how much this will negatively impact the digital economy over there, and what industry players will come out in support and against this move. Most importantly, would love to see the consumers (participants in the digital marketplace) reaction to this. I’d keep an eye on the “#debill” tag on twitter. It wouldn’t surprise me for 1 second if Clement tried to pull something like this off. Clement is responsible for the e-health crap in Ontario, and left us with a failing Health Care system in his provincial post. He doesn’t have enough brains to even begin to comprehend law regarding the digital economy. He’s too OLD, and after the Toronto Copyright town hall, too corrupt.

    It’s almost laughable that the dude that was responsible for putting Ontario Health Care on the edge of collapse is now the Minister in Charge of Industry during a time of economic uncertainty. What a crock, but expected when the vast majority of Canadians are tuned out of politics. God help us all.

  11. Jason, what you are saying is true, as it relates to copyright and it’s impact on a digital economy. But a digital economy is much more than this, and does deserve it’s own consultation input.

    EG: Health care. If we could improve the efficiency of the heath care system, it would improve the economy. So what can “digital” do for health care? How about real time monitoring of patients? How about easy authorized access for any doctor to your medical history? Let the patient decide exactly how much they want to allow access. Perhaps current prescriptions and conditions, but hide that bout with alcoholism 30 years ago?
    How does privacy issues affect the above? How does individual skill sets and regional service levels affect it? Should we even allow such data to be digitally and globally accessed?

    How about global access to consensus data (scrubbed for privacy)? Raw weather data? Earthquake data? What useful tools might an entrepreneur develop with that data?

    One of the things that amazes is the amount of software developers that love to “scratch the itch” for something they think would be useful to themselves alone. They create it, fiddle with it. If they are globally connected, they will enable it for net access. And now you have the basis for a community that might also find the tool useful.
    EG: Ask any of today’s farm kids if they have written some kind of application to help on the farm. Could it be useful to other farms? Are those farms well enough interconnected to be able to use it?

    Does copyright come into the picture for these issues? Well yes. But it doesn’t much matter what shape our copyright policies take, other issues like connectivity and skill sets and data privacy are much more important topics when it comes to a “digital economy”..

    Perhaps we misunderstand what each of us means by the term “digital economy”. Personally, I don’t see it as a single sector type of thing like mining or food or entertainment. I see it as a thread running through all these other sectors of the “economy”.