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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 93: Lex Gill on the RCMP, Clearview AI and Canada’s History of Surveillance

Earlier this month, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released a scathing report on the RCMP’s use of facial recognition technology, particularly its work with Clearview AI. The report was particularly damaging as the Commissioner found that the RCMP wasn’t truthful when it said it didn’t work with Clearview AI and then gave inaccurate information on the number of uses when it was revealed that it did. In fact, even after these findings, the RCMP still rejected the Privacy Commissioner’s findings that it violated the Privacy Act.

Lex Gill is a Montreal-based lawyer where she is an affiliate at the Citizen Lab and teaches at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. She has also worked at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. She joins the podcast to discuss the Commissioner’s findings and to explain why this is best viewed as part of a long cycle of surveillance that has often targeted social movements or vulnerable populations.

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June 21, 2021 2 comments Podcasts
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My Appearance Before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications: Why Copyright Reform Isn’t the Answer to the Challenges Faced by the News Media Sector

Yesterday I took a break from talking about Bill C-10 to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications as part of its study on Bill S-225, Senator Claude Carignan’s bill that proposes copyright reform as a mechanism to address the challenges faced by the news media sector (the bill is the focus of this week’s Lawbytes podcast, featuring a conversation with Senator Paula Simons). I was joined by representatives from News Media Canada and Facebook, which made for an engaging discussion. My opening statement is posted below:

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June 17, 2021 9 comments News
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Null and Void: Speaker of the House of Commons Strikes Down Numerous Bill C-10 Amendments

The government’s desperate attempt to pass Bill C-10 took another turn yesterday as the Speaker of the House of Commons declared many amendments “null and void”. The ruling came after the committee studying the bill voted on them despite a ruling from committee chair Scott Simms that doing so was a violation of the gag order limiting debate. As a result of MPs overruling the chair, the committee proceeded to vote on dozens of undisclosed amendments without any debate or discussion. The secretive law making process attracted considerable attention and once the bill returned to the House – complete with another attempt from Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to limit debate – Conservative MP Blake Richards challenged those amendments on a point of order. The Speaker of the House agreed and declared the amendments null and void.

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June 16, 2021 14 comments News
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Guilbeault’s Gag Order, the Sequel: Time Running Out as Government Seeks to End Debate on Bill C-10 in the House of Commons

Fresh off imposing a five-hour gag order on committee debate on Bill C-10 and rushing through a secretive process in which dozens of amendments were passed without any debate, discussion or even disclosure of the amendments, the government is back for a gag order sequel. Yesterday, the Liberal government introduced another motion, this one designed to limit debate even further: one hour for debate at the report back stage and 75 minutes at third reading. In other words, less than 2 1/2 hours total for debate on the bill in the House of Commons. The motion was introduced before the updated Bill C-10 was even posted online, though it is now available.

The move led to hours of discussion on the motion last night, leading to a consistent drumbeat from Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs, who kept asking what was in the bill that presented a concern for a freedom of expression. Left unsaid, is that at least part of the answer is what is not the bill:

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June 15, 2021 7 comments News
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 92: A Conversation with Senator Paula Simons on Copyright, the Internet and the Future of Media in Canada

Earlier this year, Senator Claude Carignan introduced Bill S-225, a bill that purports to address concerns about the viability of the Canadian media sector by amending the Copyright Act. The Senate has been studying the bill in recent weeks with Senator Paula Simons serving as the bill critic and one of the leads on the issue. Senator Simons was a longtime journalist before being appointed to the Senate and while an ardent supporter of local journalism, she has been critical of the proposed legislation. She joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the state of journalism in Canada, why she doesn’t think the social media companies “stole” stories from the media, and what Canada should be doing to encourage innovation in the media sector.

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June 14, 2021 4 comments News