It is election day in Canada following a late summer campaign in which the focus was largely anything but digital issues: COVID, climate change, Afghanistan, and affordability all dominated the daily talking points. The digital policy issues that grabbed attention throughout the spring – Bill C-10, online harms, wireless pricing – were largely absent from the discussion and in some cases even from party platforms. Laura Tribe, the executive director of OpenMedia, joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss digital policies and the 2021 election campaign. Our conversation walks through a wide range of issues, including the surprising omission of wireless pricing from the Liberal platform, the future of Bill C-10, and the failure of privacy reform to garner much political traction.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 101: OpenMedia’s Laura Tribe on Digital Policy and the 2021 Canadian Election
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 27: Digital Policy and Election 2019 – Laura Tribe of OpenMedia on Where the Parties Stand
Digital issues were expected to garner attention in the 2019 Canadian federal election campaign. Over the course of the past few weeks, all the main political parties have had something to say about the high cost of cellphone prices in Canada and the prospect of implementing new taxes on tech companies. Laura Tribe, the Executive Director of OpenMedia, joined the podcast to talk about election 2019 and digital policies in a conversation that focused on wireless services and Internet taxes as well as privacy, intermediary liability, trade, and copyright.
The CRTC released four cost awards yesterday arising from the Bell coalition’s proposal for a site blocking system. The Commission rejected the proposal last year on jurisdictional grounds and has now followed up with significant cost awards to public interest groups that participated in the process. The FairPlay coalition challenged the cost awards to OpenMedia and CIPPIC, arguing that its citizen engagement was “deliberately misleading and cannot represent responsible participation in the proceeding.” It also argued that the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s participation was “irresponsible in nature” since it included arguments questioning the harm of piracy, which FairPlay maintained encouraged the Commission “to disregard the basic tenets of the Copyright Act.”
The CRTC soundly rejected these arguments, ordering the FairPlay coalition to pay over $130,000 in costs as part of four applications (OpenMedia/CIPPIC, PIAC, FRPC, UDC). The Commission’s analysis on the value of the OpenMedia/CIPPIC public campaign is particularly noteworthy given efforts by some commentators to question it:
I’ve argued that UBB is fundamentally a competition problem and that addressing the competition concerns (which OpenMedia also supports) will address many of the concerns. Increased competition takes time, however, and in the meantime there are legitimate concerns about the use of UBB in Canada at the retail level given the approaches in other countries and the pricing far above costs. In addition to discussing those issues, my UBB paper makes a modest proposal for addressing retail UBB that includes greater transparency and a reasonableness standard. The proposal – which I’ve called the creation of Internet Billing Usage Management Practices or IBUMPs – is explained below.
OpenMedia.ca is holding a national Stop the Meter Day of Action on Saturday, February 26th. Details at their site.