After months of delays, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology has finally begun to conduct hearings on Bill C-27, which wraps Canadian privacy reform and AI regulation into a single legislative package. Last week, I appeared before the committee, making the case that the process is need of fixing and the bill in need of reform. The appearance sparked a wide range of questions from MPs from all parties. This week’s Law Bytes podcast takes you inside the committee hearing room for my opening statement and exchanges with MPs.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 182: Inside the Hearings on Privacy and AI Reform – My Industry Committee Appearance on Bill C-27
Why Industry Minister Champagne Broke the Bill C-27 Hearings on Privacy and AI Regulation in Only 12 Minutes
More than a year after Bill C-27 was first introduced, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology finally launched its review of the bill yesterday with an opening appearance from ISED Minister François-Philippe Champagne. The delays in Bill C-27 reflect significant concern with both the effectiveness of the privacy provisions and the inclusion of an AI bill that is widely viewed as inadequate. Champagne started with a 12 minute opening statement in which he assured committee members that he had heard the criticisms and that the government had a wide range of amendments planned to address the concerns. While many of the potential amendments sounded quite positive, once MP questions commenced it became clear that the department had yet to actually draft them and has no plans to provide the actual text until the committee starts clause-by-clause review of the bill. In other words, the government has decided how it wants to change Bill C-27 before a single external witness appears before committee, but it will only release the actual amendments after the witness portion of the committee study is over. The end result is that Champagne broke the hearings before they had really begun, with dozens of witnesses ready to testify about a bill that the government plans to change but won’t provide legislative language.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 171: What Just Happened? – A Half-Year Report on Canadian Digital Policy
With Parliament set to break this week for the summer, this week’s Law Bytes podcast provides a half-year report on what happened over the past six months. At the start of the year, I focused on five issues in 2023 preview: the role of Canadian Heritage, the increasing tensions over digital policy, the emergence of private members bills, wireless policy disputes, as well as privacy and AI regulation. The episode revisits these issues with an examination of how Bills C-11 and C-18 were pushed through the legislative process, the battles over wireless regulation in light of the Rogers-Shaw merger, and the failure to advance privacy and AI regulation.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 168: Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne on How to Fix Bill C-27
It has taken many months, but Bill C-27, the government’s long overdue effort at privacy reform finally is headed to committee for review. Philippe Dufresne, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has been patiently waiting for this moment, armed with a comprehensive review of the bill and a wide range of recommendations for amendments that include a more explicit framing of privacy as a fundamental right.
Dufresne was appointed as Canada’s privacy commissioner nearly one year ago and in months since has made numerous committee appearances, issued high profile findings involving companies such as Home Depot, battled Internet companies in the courts, and worked on the privacy implications of AI. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to reflect back on his first year in the position and to outline his proposals to strengthen Canada’s best shot at a modernized privacy law.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 166: Colin Bennett on How the Government Is the Using the Budget Implementation Act to Weaken the Privacy Rules for Political Parties
For the second consecutive year, the government is using the Budget Implementation Act to quietly pass concerning legislation with minimal oversight or public attention. Last year, the BIA was used to extend the term of copyright in order to comply with the USMCA. This year, it is privacy that is at issue, with provisions related to political parties. Why would the government squeeze in privacy rules on political parties in Bill C-47?
Colin Bennett, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria and a leading privacy expert, has the answer. He’s been focused on Canada’s inadequate privacy rules governing political parties for a decade and is now sounding the alarm on the bill, noting that the provisions appear to be an effort to sideline a case in British Columbia that would apply tougher provincial privacy rules to Canada’s national political parties. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain.