From the very outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, public health officials have identified the potential of contact tracing applications to both assist in conventional contact tracing activities and to warn individuals that they may have been in close proximity to someone who tested positive for the virus. The apps have unsurprisingly proven controversial, with some doubting their effectiveness and others concerned about the broader privacy and security implications.
The Government of Alberta was first off the mark with its ABTraceTogether app that launched in May 2020. Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton recently completed her review of the application with an extensive investigation into its privacy implications that included an examination of the technical details, how the app functions, the role of third parties, and access to the data by contact tracers and other officials. Commissioner Clayton joins me on the podcast to discuss her report, the positive aspects of the app implementation, and the ongoing concerns that her review uncovered.
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South Africa spent years embroiled in a high profile effort to update its copyright law responding to concerns from creators, the education community, and the visually impaired that the longstanding laws did not serve the national interest and were harming creativity and access to knowledge. Its Parliament ultimately passed progressive reforms in 2019, but the bill languished on the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who faced enormous trade pressures from the United States and European Union to not sign the bill and stop it from becoming law. Last month, he seemingly caved to the pressure, citing constitutional concerns in sending it back to the Parliament.
Ben Cashdan is a South African documentary film maker and television producer who was active during the copyright reform process. He worked with Recreate ZA, which brought together a broad coalition of creatives, to advocate for both the interests of owning copyright in their own works, and in fairly using copyrighted materials in the creation of new works He joins me on the podcast this week to discuss the decade-long reform process, the external pressures, and explains why he thinks those pressures should be viewed as racist policies.
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The Supreme Court of Canada recently released its much anticipated Uber Technologies v. Heller decision, a landmark ruling with significant implications for the validity of online contracts and for employment relations in the gig economy. The court rejected an arbitration clause in an Uber contract with its drivers, finding the clause unconscionable.
The decision unsurprisingly quickly caught the attention of many in the legal, technology, business, and consumer advocacy communities. Professor Marina Pavlovic is a friend and colleague at the University of Ottawa, who appeared before the Supreme Court representing the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic as an intervener in the case. She joined me on the podcast to discuss the decision and to explain why she believes it is an earth shattering ruling for online contracts in Canada.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently suggested that the government’s support for news media should be replaced by copyright rules that would open the door to payments from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Guilbeault indicated that a legislative package was being prepared for the fall that would include a press publishers’ right is that is commonly referred to as an internet link tax.
Julia Reda is a former Member of the European Parliament who for several years was the most active and visible politician in Europe when it came to copyright reform. That multi-year debate ultimately led to the adoption of a link tax and upload filters with a European directive. She joins me on the podcast to talk about that experience, why she believes a link tax harms freedom of expression and diversity of media, and what lessons Canada should draw from the European experience.
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The state of Canadian privacy law has been ongoing source of concern with many experts concluding that the law is outdated and no longer fit for purpose. This is particularly true when contrasted with rules in the European Union that feature tough penalties and new privacy rights. It would appear that the province of Quebec has concluded that the waiting has gone on long enough. The provincial government recently introduced Bill 64, which if adopted would overhaul provincial privacy laws and provide a potential model for both the federal government and the other provinces.
Eloïse Gratton is a partner at the law firm of Borden Ladner Gervais in Montreal and recognized as one of Canada’s leading privacy law practitioners. She joins the podcast to break down Bill 64 and its implications for privacy enforcement, accountability and new privacy rights.
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