Appeared in the Toronto Star on May 24, 2014 as What if the CBC Really Put Everything Up for Review The future of broadcasting has emerged as a hot issue with Canada’s broadcast regulator effectively putting everything up for grabs as part of its comprehensive TalkTV review of broadcasting regulation. […]
Archive for May 26th, 2014
What if the CBC Really Put Everything Up for Review?
In Defence of the Government Tracking Social Media Activity
For most of the past decade, many people concerned with digital rights have used the Internet and social media to raise awareness in the hope that the government might pay closer attention to their views. The Canadian experience has provided more than its fair share of success stories from copyright reform to usage based billing to the Vic Toews lawful access bill. Yet in recent weeks, there has been mounting criticism about the government’s tracking of social media. This post provides a partial defence of the government, arguing that it should be tracking social media activity provided it does so for policy-making purposes.
The controversy started with news that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has written to the government to express concern that an increasing number of government institutions are collecting publicly available personal information from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The initial report generated considerable media attention with claims that the activity may violate the Privacy Act (or at least the spirit of the legislation).
Last week, Treasury Board President Tony Clement told Jesse Brown that the collection was largely in aggregate form to track public sentiment and that a full review of current practices would be undertaken. However, a later report demonstrated that government officials tracking Bill C-30 (the earlier lawful access bill) did identify specific Twitter users and their tweets (many internal documents I’ve obtained under Access to Information suggest that the Public Safety officials have been exceptionally defensive about lawful access and often seem to drift away from a balanced position).
- The Biden Visit to Canada: Why Digital Policy is Emerging as a Serious Trade Tension
- The Government’s Fishing Expedition: Why the Bill C-18 Motion Establishes a Dangerous Precedent For Those Who Dare to Oppose Legislation
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce Warns on Government-Backed Bill C-18 Motion: “A Serious Threat to the Privacy of Canadians”
- The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 160: Peter Carrescia on Why Patents Won’t Solve Canada’s Innovation Problem
- Government-Backed Motion Demands Disclosure of Years of Third-Party Communications With Google and Facebook in Retribution for Opposing Bill C-18
Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era (University of Ottawa Press, 2015)
The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law (University of Ottawa Press, 2013)
From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda (Irwin Law, 2010)
In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law (Irwin Law, 2005) .