European countries reached agreement late last week on a landmark legislative package to regulate artificial intelligence. AI regulation has emerged as a key issue over the past year as the explosive growth of ChatGPT and other generative AI services have sparked legislation, lawsuits and national consultations. The EU AI Act is heralded as the first of its kind and as a model for Canadian AI rules. Luca Bertuzzi is a Brussels-based tech journalist who was widely regarded as the leading source of information and analysis about the unfolding negotiations involving the EU AI Act. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain the EU process, the ongoing opposition by some countries, and the future steps for AI regulation in Europe.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 191: Luca Bertuzzi on the Making of the EU Artificial Intelligence Act
Bill S-210 is Just the Beginning: How a Canadian Digital Lobby Group is Promoting a Standard to “Foster Widespread Adoption of Age Verification Technologies in Canada”
This week’s Law Bytes podcast features a revealing discussion with Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, the chief architect and lead defender of Bill S-210 or the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act. It may be the most dangerous Internet bill you’ve never heard of since it contemplates measures that raise privacy concerns, website blocking, and extend far beyond pornography sites to include search and social media. The bill started in the Senate and is now in the House of Commons, where last year Conservative, NDP, and Bloc MPs voted alongside a small number of Liberal MPs in favour of it at second reading and sent it to committee for further study. The government has called the bill “fundamentally flawed”, but there may be sufficient House support to turn it into binding legislation.
While Senator Miville-Dechêne emphasizes stopping underage access to sexually explicit material and her view that that goal merits site blocking and mandated age verification even for some uses of Google and Twitter, a new standards initiative suggests that some envision far more extensive use of mandated age verification systems. The Digital Governance Council is one of several Jim Balsillie-led organizations focused on influencing government digital and innovation policy. Its CEO is Keith Jansa, who Senator Miville-Dechêne identified in the Law Bytes podcast as her source for providing assurance of the privacy safeguards in the bill.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 190: Debating Bill S-210 – Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne Defends Her Internet Age Verification Bill
I’ve described Bill S-210, the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act, as the most dangerous Internet bill you’ve never heard of as it contemplates measures that raise privacy concerns, website blocking, and extend far beyond pornography sites to include search and social media. The bill started in the Senate and having passed there is now in the House of Commons, where MPs voted in favour of it at second reading and sent it to committee for further study. Senator Julie Mivelle-Dechêne is the chief architect and lead defender of the bill. A former Radio-Canada broadcaster who was appointed to the Senate by Justin Trudeau in 2018, she joins the Law Bytes podcast to debate her bill as she provides her rationale for it and defends against the criticism and concerns it has sparked.
Canadian Copyright in the Age of Generative AI: My Submission to the Government’s Copyright Consultation
The government’s consultation on copyright and generative AI closed last week. The submissions are not yet public, but I am pleased to post my submission, which focused on an exception for text and data mining, the inclusion of copyrighted works in large language models, and the copyright implications of outputs from generative AI systems. My submission noted that the consultation raises several questions related to generative AI and copyright. I focused on three:
(1) Should Canada proceed with a text and data mining exception as recommended in the 2019 Copyright Act review?
(2) Should Canada introduce legislative reforms to address the use of copyright works in large language models (LLMs) that are central to the development of generative AI technologies?
(3) Should Canada introduce legislative reforms to address copyright-related questions arising from the outputs of generative AI systems?
Site Blocking and Age Verification for Twitter, Instagram, Snap and Twitch?: Age Verification Lobby Confirms it Wants Bill S-210 to Cover All Social Media Sites
Bill S-210 – the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act – burst onto the public scene late last year as a majority of the House voted for the bill at second reading, sending it to the Public Safety committee for review. The bill, which is the brainchild of Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, was supported by the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP with a smattering of votes from backbench Liberal MPs (the cabinet voted against, signalling it is not supported by the government). The bill raises significant concerns with the prospect of government-backed censorship, mandated age verification to use search engines or social media, and a framework for court-ordered website blocking (I appeared before the Senate committee that studied by the bill in February 2022, arguing that “by bringing together website blocking, face recognition technologies, and stunning overbreadth that would capture numerous mainstream services, the bill isn’t just a slippery slope, it is an avalanche.”).
In response to the public criticism of the bill, Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne has suggested that concerns about it extending to general purpose social media sites is overstated since the intent is to target adult content sites. Yet that is not what the bill provides as it applies to anyone who makes sexually explicit material available on the Internet for commercial purposes: