Later today, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will vote on a government-backed motion that would compel Google and Facebook to disclose private third-party communications dating back years that could sweep in the private communications of thousands of Canadians. The motion, which is obvious retribution for opposing Bill C-18, is a stunning attack on the privacy of Canadians and could have a chilling effect on public participation. However, you don’t have to take my word for it. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has issued a dire warning about the motion in a public letter, suggesting it is undemocratic and urging MPs to reject it.
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
In recent years, there has been growing effort to link longstanding concerns about Canadian innovation with patents. The argument – which has crossed into Canada’s strategy around AI – posits that the road to an innovative economy is inextricably linked to a greater emphasis on intellectual property and in particular on patents. But what if the correlation between patents and innovation is weak at best? What if an emphasis on patents may actually be harmful to startups whose attention and resources is better placed elsewhere?
Peter Carrescia is a successful innovator and investor who recently wrote a Globe and Mail op-ed that raises precisely these issues, warning that “creating policy that pushes patents regardless of area or company stage and gauges success by counting patents is misguided and, in fact, dangerous to the success of startups.” He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about his experience and concerns with direction of government policy that may be mistaking an IP policy for an innovation one.
Government-Backed Motion Demands Disclosure of Years of Third-Party Communications With Google and Facebook in Retribution for Opposing Bill C-18
The government plans to introduce a motion next week requiring Google and Facebook to turn over years of private third-party communication involving any Canadian regulation. The move represents more than just a remarkable escalation of its battle against the two tech companies for opposing Bill C-18 and considering blocking news sharing or linking in light of demands for hundreds of millions in payments. The motion – to be introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (yes, that guy) – calls for a series of hearings on what it describes as “current and ongoing use of intimidation and subversion tactics to avoid regulation in Canada”. In the context of Bill C-18, those tactics amount to little more than making the business choice that Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez made clear was a function of his bill: if you link to content, you fall within the scope of the law and must pay. If you don’t link, you are out of scope.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez Contradicts His Own Bill and Department Officials in Effort to Defend Bill C-18
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is on the defensive as he tries to defend Bill C-18 in the wake of both Google and Facebook signalling that they may remove Canadian news from search results and social media sharing in light of the government’s approach that creates mandated payments for links. Rodriguez appeared on CBC yesterday and had no answers for the questions about what he will do if the companies walk away from news given government estimates that they could be on the hook for 35% of the news expenditures of every news outlet in Canada if they continue to link to their news content. More notably, he contradicted both his own bill and his own department officials when he told Postmedia that “C-18 has nothing to do with how Facebook makes news available to Canadians.” For those who followed months of gaslighting with Bill C-11, this comment will provide a sense of deja-vu since Rodriguez sometimes leaves the impression has only read media lines, rather than his own legislation.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 159: Fenwick McKelvey on the Rapid Spread of Government TikTok Bans
TikTok may be enormously popular, but according to the growing number of government, there are concerns regarding links between the app and the Chinese government. That has led to a rapid spread bans of the TikTok app on government devices not only at the federal level, but at provincial and municipal governments and even at universities for university-owned devices. But is TikTok unique in this regard? How to reconcile the government’s insistence that TikTok contribute to Cancon in Bill C-11 with it banning the app due to security risks? Are the privacy concerns more about TikTok or the government’s inaction on privacy reform?
Fenwick McKelvey is an Associate Professor in Information and Communication Technology Policy in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University and the co-director of the Applied AI Institute. He returns to the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the TikTok bans, the state of Canadian policy in addressing the concerns, and why we may be heading for more geo-political battles over digital policy.