Archive for April, 2024

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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 201: Robert Diab on the Billion Dollar Lawsuits Launched By Ontario School Boards Against Social Media Giants

Concerns about the impact of social media on youth have been brewing for a long time, but in recent months a new battleground has emerged: the courts, who are home to lawsuits launched by school boards seeking billions in compensation and demands that the social media giants change their products to better protect kids. Those lawsuits have now come to Canada with four Ontario school boards recently filing claims.

Robert Diab is a professor of law at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. He writes about constitutional and human rights, as well as topics in law and technology. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to provide a comparison between the Canadian and US developments, a deep dive into alleged harms and legal arguments behind the claims, and an assessment of the likelihood of success.

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April 29, 2024 4 comments Podcasts
The European Union flag in the European Parliament in Strasbourg by © European Union 2013 - European Parliament. (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons license) https://flic.kr/p/eJxnjR

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 200: Colin Bennett on the EU’s Surprising Adequacy Finding on Canadian Privacy Law

A little over five years ago, I launched the Law Bytes podcast with an episode featuring Elizabeth Denham, then the UK’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, who provided her perspective on Canadian privacy law. I must admit that I didn’t know what the future would hold for the podcast, but I certainly did not envision reaching 200 episodes. I think it’s been a fun, entertaining, and educational ride. I’m grateful to the incredible array of guests, to Gerardo Lebron Laboy, who has been there to help produce every episode, and to the listeners who regularly provide great feedback. 

The podcast this week goes back to where it started with a look at Canadian privacy through the eyes of Europe. It flew under the radar screen for many, but earlier this year the EU concluded that Canada’s privacy law still provides an adequate level of protection for personal information. The decision comes as a bit of surprise to many given that Bill C-27 is currently at clause-by-clause review and there has been years of criticism that the law is outdated.  To help understand the importance of the EU adequacy finding and its application to Canada, Colin Bennett, one of the world’s leading authorities on privacy and privacy governance, joins the podcast.

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April 22, 2024 4 comments Podcasts
Bill C-63 screenshot, https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/C-63/first-reading

Debating the Online Harms Act: Insights from Two Recent Panels on Bill C-63

The Online Harms Act has sparked widespread debate over the past six weeks. I’ve covered the bill in a trio of Law Bytes podcast (Online Harms, Canada Human Rights Act, Criminal Code) and participated in several panels focused on the issue. Those panels are posted below. First, a panel titled the Online Harms Act: What’s Fact and What’s Fiction, sponsored by CIJA that included Emily Laidlaw, Richard Marceau and me. It paid particular attention to the intersection between the bill and online hate.

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April 18, 2024 3 comments News
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 199: Boris Bytensky on the Criminal Code Reforms in the Online Harms Act

The Online Harms Act – otherwise known as Bill C-63 – is really at least three bills in one. The Law Bytes podcast tackled the Internet platform portion of the bill last month in an episode with Vivek Krishnamurthy and then last week Professor Richard Moon joined to talk about the return of Section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act. Part three may the most controversial: the inclusion of Criminal Code changes that have left even supporters of the bill uncomfortable.

Boris Bytensky of the firm Bytensky Shikhman has been a leading Canadian criminal law lawyer for decades and currently serves as President of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association. He joins the podcast to discuss the bill’s Criminal Code reforms as he identifies some of the practical implications that have thus far been largely overlooked in the public debate.

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April 15, 2024 6 comments Podcasts
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AI Spending is Not an AI Strategy: Why the Government’s Artificial Intelligence Plan Avoids the Hard Governance Questions

The government announced plans over the weekend to spend billions of dollars to support artificial intelligence. Billed as “securing Canada’s AI Advantage”, the plan includes promises to spend $2 billion on an AI Compute Access Fund and a Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy that is focused on developing domestic computing infrastructure. In addition, there is $200 million for AI startups, $100 million for AI adoption, $50 million for skills training (particularly those in the creative sector), $50 million for an AI Safety Institute, and $5.1 million to support the Office of the AI and Data Commissioner, which would be created by Bill C-27.  While the plan received unsurprising applause from AI institutes that have been lobbying for the money, I have my doubts. There is unquestionably a need to address AI policy, but this approach appears to paper over hard questions about AI governance and regulation. The money may be useful – though given the massive private sector investment in the space right now a better case for public money is needed – but tossing millions at each issue is not the equivalent of grappling with AI safety, copyright or regulatory challenges.

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April 9, 2024 18 comments News