It has taken many years, but Canada finally appears ready to engage in an overhaul of its outdated private sector privacy law. Earlier this month, the Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains introduced Bill C-11, which, if enacted, would fundamentally re-write Canada’s privacy rules. The government intends to repeal PIPEDA and replace it with the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, which features a new privacy tribunal, tough penalties for non-compliance, and new provisions on issues such as data portability and data de-identification.
To discuss the thinking behind the bill and the government’s privacy plans for privacy, Minister Bains this week joins the Law Bytes podcast as he identifies some the benefits of the bill, clarifies the reasoning behind some of the more controversial policy decisions, and provides a roadmap for what comes next.
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The Canadian government yesterday introduced the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (technically Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act), which represents a dramatic change in how Canada will enforce privacy law. I quickly posted a summary of the some of the key provisions yesterday, noting the need for careful study. That post focused on six issues: the new privacy law structure, stronger enforcement, new privacy rights on data portability and algorithmic transparency, standards of consent, bringing back PIPEDA privacy requirements, and codes of practice. This post raises ten questions that will likely emerge as pressure points with stakeholders on both sides raising concerns about their implications.
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Canada’s privacy sector privacy law was born in the late 1990s at a time when e-commerce was largely a curiosity and companies such as Facebook did not exist. For years, the privacy community has argued that Canada’s law was no longer fit for purpose and that a major overhaul was needed. The pace of reform has been frustrating slow, but today Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains introduced the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (technically Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act), which represents a dramatic change in how Canada will enforce privacy law. The bill repeals the privacy provisions of the current Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and will require considerable study to fully understand the implications of the new rules.
This post covers six of the biggest issues in the bill: the new privacy law structure, stronger enforcement, new privacy rights on data portability, de-identification, and algorithmic transparency, standards of consent, bringing back PIPEDA privacy requirements, and codes of practice. These represent significant reforms that attempt to modernize Canadian law, though some issues addressed elsewhere such as the right to be forgotten are left for another day. Given the changes – particularly on new enforcement and rights – there will undoubtedly be considerable lobbying on the bill with efforts to water down some of the provisions. Moreover, some of the new rules require accompanying regulations, which, if the battle over anti-spam laws are a model, could take years to finalize after lengthy consultations and (more) lobbying.
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News Media Canada (NMC), the lobby group representing the major newspaper publishers in Canada, released a new report yesterday calling for the creation of a government digital media regulatory agency that would have the power to establish mandated payments for linking to news articles, establish what content is prioritized on social media sites, require companies to disclose algorithmic changes, hand over moderation control of content on news stories to the publishers, and potentially issue fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has made “get money from web giants” his top legislative priority and has expressed support for mandated licensing for links.
The report, which inaccurately describes the ill-advised Australian approach to licensing links to news articles, is notable for many of the things it does not say. For example, one could easily read the 41 page report and not realize that companies such as Google and Facebook do not publish full versions of news articles without a licence. Indeed, rather than “taking” content, links to news articles are posted by their users, which then send interested readers back to the original source. In fact, the media companies themselves are typically responsible for posting their own articles and granting a licence for their use.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, who says his top legislative priority is to “get money from web giants”, has discussed creating a new mandated licence for social media linking to news articles. Guilbeault calls the practice “immoral” and envisions using the Copyright Board of Canada to create a tariff for linking to news articles accompanied by new government powers to levy penalties for failure to comply. Last week, I looked at a single Toronto Star article to see its engagement on Facebook. Using the CrowdTangle Chrome extension, I found that virtually all public engagement with the article came from a Facebook post that the Toronto Star posted itself.
Today’s post expands on that approach by examining a larger group of articles all taken from single day. This post looks at 36 original articles posted to the Star’s website on the morning of October 14, 2020. The day was selected at random and while most Facebook posts take place within the first 24 hours, I waited five days before examining the social media engagement with the articles to give time for potential posts and shares. The Star’s website changes throughout the day, so recreating the day’s paper is difficult. Instead, I endeavoured to include all new Toronto Star-originated articles that had been posted over the prior 20 hours (thereby including articles posted on both October 13th and the morning of the 14th). Articles from wire news services (which is the majority of foreign news stories, sports stories, and some national stories) were excluded as they are licensed by the Star and can be found from many sources online.
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