Archive for September, 2013
The 35th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners wraps up today in Warsaw, Poland. The conference has become an important annual event, facilitating greater global cooperation on privacy and providing the commissioners with a venue to speak out on key privacy issues. This year, the commissioners issued one declaration (on the “appification” of society) and nine resolutions. The resolutions cover a wide range of issues including profiling, international enforcement, anchoring privacy in international law, and web tracking.
Yet despite the enormous public attention to surveillance issues over the past few months, there are no specific resolutions on the issue. In fact, surveillance is only mentioned once, in a resolution on openness of personal data practices which urges organizations to be more open about their practices and adds that governments should do the same. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission abstained from voting on the resolution due to the reference to governments. The U.S. may have been particularly uncomfortable with the final paragraph in the explanatory note:
Reports over the past week have indicated that the government plans to unveil a “consumer first” agenda for its upcoming Speech from the Throne. The speech, which will set out the federal legislative and policy agenda for the next two years, is widely viewed as the unofficial start of the 2015 election campaign.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes there is little doubt that the battle over wireless pricing, which hit a fever pitch over the summer in a very public fight between Industry Minister James Moore and the incumbent telecom companies, will figure prominently in any consumer agenda. The government is convinced that it has a winner on its hands – consumer frustration with Canada’s high wireless prices suggests that they’re right – and will continue to emphasize policies geared toward increasing competition.
Yet a consumer first agenda should involve more than just taking on the telcos on spectrum (or the airlines over their pricing practices). A digital consumer first agenda should prioritize several other issues that have similar potential to strike a chord with Canadians across the country. At the heart of those digital issues are two ongoing consumer concerns: pricing and protections.