Earlier this year, Senator Claude Carignan introduced Bill S-225, a bill that purports to address concerns about the viability of the Canadian media sector by amending the Copyright Act. The Senate has been studying the bill in recent weeks with Senator Paula Simons serving as the bill critic and one of the leads on the issue. Senator Simons was a longtime journalist before being appointed to the Senate and while an ardent supporter of local journalism, she has been critical of the proposed legislation. She joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the state of journalism in Canada, why she doesn’t think the social media companies “stole” stories from the media, and what Canada should be doing to encourage innovation in the media sector.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 92: A Conversation with Senator Paula Simons on Copyright, the Internet and the Future of Media in Canada
The Broadcasting Act Blunder series has focused for the past two days on inaccurate claims from Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault that the bill contains significant economic thresholds as a guardrail against over-regulation and excludes news from its ambit. As I noted, the bill does no such thing, though the CRTC will be able to establish regulatory exemptions once it conducts extensive hearings on implementing the legislation should it pass (prior posts in the Broadcasting Act Blunder series include Day 1: Why there is no Canadian Content Crisis, Day 2: What the Government Doesn’t Say About Creating a “Level Playing Field”, Day 3: Minister Guilbeault Says Bill C-10 Contains Economic Thresholds That Limit Internet Regulation. It Doesn’t, Day 4: Why Many News Sites are Captured by Bill C-10).
One type of service that is narrowly exempted from the new regulation in Bill C-10 is user generated content services, referred to in the bill as social media services. The bill states:
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 68: Mike Pal on What the Canadian Experience Teaches About the Intersection Between Election Law and the Internet
The world will be focused on the United States this week as the U.S. Presidential election is slated to take place on Tuesday, November 3rd. The role of social media has been in the spotlight in the US for months with calls for regulation, a range of responses from the major companies, and ongoing concerns about the immediate aftermath of the election and fears that their platforms could be weaponized if the winner is in dispute.
Canada had its own national election one year ago and enacted a range of reforms designed to address some of these issues. Mike Pal is a colleague at the University of Ottawa where he specializes in election law. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the Canadian experience including what changes were made, whether they were effective, what more can be done, and what Canada might teach others about confronting the challenges that lie at the intersection between elections and the Internet.
For most of the past decade, many people concerned with digital rights have used the Internet and social media to raise awareness in the hope that the government might pay closer attention to their views. The Canadian experience has provided more than its fair share of success stories from copyright reform to usage based billing to the Vic Toews lawful access bill. Yet in recent weeks, there has been mounting criticism about the government’s tracking of social media. This post provides a partial defence of the government, arguing that it should be tracking social media activity provided it does so for policy-making purposes.
The controversy started with news that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has written to the government to express concern that an increasing number of government institutions are collecting publicly available personal information from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The initial report generated considerable media attention with claims that the activity may violate the Privacy Act (or at least the spirit of the legislation).
Last week, Treasury Board President Tony Clement told Jesse Brown that the collection was largely in aggregate form to track public sentiment and that a full review of current practices would be undertaken. However, a later report demonstrated that government officials tracking Bill C-30 (the earlier lawful access bill) did identify specific Twitter users and their tweets (many internal documents I’ve obtained under Access to Information suggest that the Public Safety officials have been exceptionally defensive about lawful access and often seem to drift away from a balanced position).
The Toronto Star reports on a leaked Conservative party document setting out the strategy for the 2015 election. Of particular note is the party’s plans to engage in widespread social media monitoring that seek to identify users based on social media activity for follow-up and engagement. The Star reports:
the document showed how the party can mine information on â€œnon-CPC brandedâ€ websites, using a friendly media “Illustration.” The slide show points to radio station CFRA’s Lowell Green, whom it identifies as an “Ottawa based conservative leaning talk show host.” It says a “recent Facebook posting – non-issue” received 55 Facebook “likes.” The document says the party was able to “positively identify 38 constituents (70 per cent ID rate).” Of those 38, it said five “are current members/donors.” The result, it said: “33 Canadians who would be a ‘warm contact’ for engagement.”
- The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 102: Colleen Flood on the Legal, Ethical and Policy Implications of Vaccine Passports
- The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 101: OpenMedia’s Laura Tribe on Digital Policy and the 2021 Canadian Election
- The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 100: David Vaver With a Masterclass on Copyright and User Rights
- The Liberal Election Platform: Government Picks Internet Regulation Over Internet Affordability
- The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 99: “They Just Seemed Not to Listen to Any of Us” – Cynthia Khoo on the Canadian Government’s Online Harms Consultation