Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met yesterday to discuss Canada-U.S. Trade issues and concerns regarding Canada’s digital policy – most notably a proposed digital sales tax and Bills C-11 and C-18 – continue to mount. The U.S. raised digital policy concern over the summer, specifically citing Bill C-11 with a reference to “pending legislation in the Canadian Parliament that could impact digital streaming services.” The latest readout suggests that the concerns are growing, as the U.S. now cites both Bills C-11 and C-18 by raising “pending legislation in the Canadian Parliament that could impact digital streaming services and online news sharing and discriminate against U.S. businesses.”
A Tale of Two Readouts: U.S. Escalates Trade Concerns With Canadian Digital Policy as Canada Seeks To Downplay the Issue
Who Is the Government Really Backing With Bill C-18?: Rejected Online News Outlet Amendment Tells the Story
Last week, I wrote about Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner’s comments at the Heritage committee study into Bill C-18, as she dismissed a proposed Conservative amendment by offering a misleading take on CRTC regulation of the news and stating that online news outlets are “not news.They’re not gathering news. They’re publishing opinion only.” Those comments unsurprisingly sparked anger from many online news outlets, leading to an apology from Hepfner in which she said that Bill C-18 will support digital journalists in their work. Yet a day later, the committee was back at clause-by-clause review and while Hepfner remained silent, her colleagues voted down an amendment proposed by online news services which re-affirms that action speaks louder than words.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 148: Christelle Tessono on Bringing a Human Rights Lens to AI Regulation in Bill C-27
Bill C-27, the government’s privacy and artificial intelligence bill is slowly making its way through the Parliamentary process. One of the emerging issues has been the mounting opposition to the AI portion of the bill, including a recent NDP motion to divide the bill for voting purposes, separating the privacy and AI portions. In fact, several studies have been released which place the spotlight on the concerns with the government’s plan for AI regulation, which is widely viewed as vague and ineffective. Christelle Tessono is a tech policy researcher based at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP). She was one of several authors of a joint report on the AI bill which brought together researchers from the Cybersecure Policy Exchange at Toronto Metropolitan University, McGill University’s Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy, and the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. Christelle joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the report and what she thinks needs to change in Bill C-27.
Since its introduction last spring, online news outlets have expressed fears that Bill C-18, the Online News Act, will primarily benefit large incumbent news organizations. Those concerns grew once the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that more than 75% of the revenues would go to broadcasters such as Bell, Rogers, and the CBC. After Postmedia and Torstar collect their share, there may be little left for innovative online startups. The government has seemingly tried to ignore those startups with Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez talking about 400+ news outlet closures since 2008, but neglecting to refer to the hundreds of new outlets that have sprung up during the same period.
During the clause-by-clause review of Bill C-18, Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner, herself a former journalist, provide a stunning illustration of how the government only views incumbent news outlets as worthy of support. Responding to a proposed Conservative amendment to the bill, Hepfner stated: