The House of Commons Committee on Ethics, Accountability and Privacy recently launched a major new study into the privacy concerns raised by popular social media sites. The study promises to canvass a wide range of perspectives as elected officials grapple with emerging privacy issues and consider whether the current legal framework provides sufficient protection.
Canadians are among the most active social media users in the world, yet the growing reliance on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ has generated unease with the privacy implications of massive data collection. My weekly technology law column last week (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes I was recently invited to appear before the committee and used my time to identify four areas in need of action.
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Last December, the government celebrated
passing eight bills into law, including the long-delayed anti-spam bill. Years after a national task force recommended enacting anti-spam legislation, the Canadian bill finally established strict rules for electronic marketing and safeguards against the installation of unwanted software programs on personal computers, all backed by tough multi-million dollar penalties.
Then-Industry Minister Tony Clement promised that the law would “protect Canadian businesses and consumers from harmful and misleading online threats,” but nearly a year later, the law is in limbo, the victim of a fight over regulations that threaten to delay implementation for many more months.
Although support for anti-spam legislation would seemingly be uncontroversial, various business groups mounted a spirited attack against the bill during the legislative process, claiming requirements to obtain user consent before sending commercial email would create new barriers to doing business online. Passing the anti-spam legislation ultimately proved far more difficult than most anticipated with groups seeking to water down tough provisions and greatly expand the list of exceptions to the general rules on obtaining user consent.
Months later, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports it is dÃ©jÃ vu all over again as the government works to finalize the regulations for the anti-spam legislation and the same groups make many of the same arguments. A call for comment over the summer from both Industry Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (enforcement of the law is shared by the CRTC, Competition Bureau, and Privacy Commissioner of Canada) generated dozens of responses, most of which begin by congratulating the government on passing anti-spam legislation and then proceeded to urge significant amendments.
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Appeared on October 30, 2011 in the Toronto Star as Anti-Spam Law in Limbo as Groups Seek Exceptions Last December, the government celebrated passing eight bills into law, including the long-delayed anti-spam bill. Years after a national task force recommended enacting anti-spam legislation, the Canadian bill finally established strict rules […]
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