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
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).
- My Appearance Before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications: Why Copyright Reform Isn’t the Answer to the Challenges Faced by the News Media Sector
- Null and Void: Speaker of the House of Commons Strikes Down Numerous Bill C-10 Amendments
- Guilbeault’s Gag Order, the Sequel: Time Running Out as Government Seeks to End Debate on Bill C-10 in the House of Commons
- The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 92: A Conversation with Senator Paula Simons on Copyright, the Internet and the Future of Media in Canada
- Secret Law Making: Liberal, Bloc and NDP MPs Unite to Back Undisclosed Bill C-10 Amendments Without Discussion or Debate