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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 104: Taylor Owen on What the Latest Facebook Revelations Mean for Canada’s Online Harms Legislative Plans

Facebook has once again found itself in the political spotlight as Frances Haugen, a former data scientist and product manager with the company turned whistleblower, provided the source documents for an explosive investigative series in the Wall Street Journal followed by an appearance before a U.S. Senate committee. The Facebook Files series comes just as Canada is moving toward its own legislative response to Internet concerns, with an online harms consultation  that provides a roadmap for future policies.

The Canadian initiative has sparked widespread criticism, but recent events may only increase the calls for legislative action. Taylor Owen, the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications in the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the latest revelations and what they might mean for the future of Canadian Internet regulation.

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October 18, 2021 3 comments Podcasts
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 96: More Harm Than Good – My Appearance Before the Senate Transport Committee on a Copyright Bill to Support Media Organizations

Bill S-225, Senator Claude Carignan’s copyright bill, would create a new compensation scheme for media organizations by establishing a new collective rights system for the use of news articles on digital platforms. It may not become law, but it has sparked considerable discussion within the Senate on the issue of media and Internet platforms. In fact, while the digital policy world was focused on Bill C-10, last month the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications held hearings on the bill with a wide range of witnesses that included News Media Canada, Facebook and Google. I was invited to appear in their last hearing of the session alongside Jamie Irving from News Media Canada and Kevin Chan from Facebook. This week’s Law Bytes podcast episode goes inside the virtual committee hearing room with my opening statement and exchanges with several Senators.

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July 26, 2021 5 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 Committees, News
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The Key Takeaway From Steven Guilbeault’s Facebook Use: Linking Should Not Require a Licence

My post yesterday on Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Facebook use generated considerable attention as many noted the obvious inconsistencies for a Minister that has described linking to news stories on social media sites without payment as immoral, while at the same time actively linking to news stories on his own Facebook feed. While it is difficult to set aside the uploaded broadcaster videos without referral links (which raise thorny copyright issues for someone who shares responsibility for copyright law) and the thousands spent advertising on Facebook (given that Guilbeault has called for reduced digital ad spending), I think the key takeaway comes from his linking to news stories at a number of leading Canadian sources.

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March 10, 2021 6 comments News
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Beware the Unintended Consequences: Some Warning Signs for Canada from the Australian Government Battle With Facebook

Last year, the Australian government presented Google and Facebook with an ultimatum: if the companies wanted to continue to allow users to link to news articles, they would be required to compensate news organizations. The Australian plan called for the creation of a mandated code that would create a process to determine the price to be paid for the links. Facebook’s response made it clear that if that was the choice – links with mandated payments or no links – it would choose the latter and block Australian news sharing from its service. While some described this as a threat (including Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault) or a bluff, it turns out the company was serious.

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February 19, 2021 25 comments News