Appeared in the Toronto Star on June 14, 2010 as Opening Up Canada's Digital Economy Strategy The federal government’s national consultation on a digital economy strategy is now past the half-way mark having generated a somewhat tepid response so far. The consultation document itself may bear some of the blame […]
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I appeared earlier today at Industry Minister Tony Clement's Canada's Digital Economy Conference. I shared the stage with Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and Tim Wilson from Visa Canada on a panel titled Toward A Safer, Stronger Online Marketplace. My prepared remarks are posted below:
Canada’s Digital Economy: Toward A Safer, Stronger Online Marketplace
Michael Geist, June 22, 2009
Let me begin by thanking Minister Clement – both for the invitation to speak here today and more importantly for his leadership on this critical issue. We all recognize the importance of the digital environment for commercial, cultural, educational, and communication purposes. Canada was once a proud leader in this arena and I think most would acknowledge that we have failed in recent years to articulate much-needed vision, strategy, and perhaps most importantly – urgency.
Minister Clement opened today’s conference by citing confidence as one of his key concerns. I think he’s identified a crucial concern. Privacy and security are key components in instilling this confidence, but there are other issues. I recently wrote about a digital action plan and I want to tease out several points that arise within the context of building confidence.
In recent months, there has been growing support for a national digital strategy. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission explicitly identified the need for a strategy in its new media decision as have prominent leaders in the technology, telecommunications, broadcast, and education communities. The issue now appears to be resonating within government. Industry Minister Tony Clement has convened a digital strategy summit later this month, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore has emphasized the importance of online platforms, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has pledged to support a national strategy.
My weekly technology column (shorter Toronto Star version and Ottawa Citizen versions, longer homepage version) notes that the need for a national strategy stems from the realization that Canada is rapidly falling behind much of the developed world on digital issues. The gradual hollowing out of the Canadian technology sector (one-time giants such as Nortel, JDS, Corel, Newbridge Networks, and Entrust are all either gone or unrecognizable today), the absence of a strategy to digitize Canadian content, the inability of the CRTC to make sense of its governing legislation as it applies to the Internet, and the plummeting rankings of Canadian high-speed Internet and wireless services all point to a problem that can no longer be ignored.