The Liberal party released its election platform yesterday and perhaps everything you need to know can be gleaned from the fact that Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault posted multiple tweets about plans for new cultural spending initiatives and Internet regulations in French without a single English language tweet. This is surely not a coincidence since the government’s digital policies have long been designed to curry favour in Quebec, even at risk of angering voters in the rest of Canada. Based on decision to forge ahead with Internet regulations with enormous implications for freedom of expression, alienating voters in the rest of Canada that have raised concerns with policies such as Bill C-10 is not a worry for the Liberal government.
Neither, it would seem, is the affordability of Internet and wireless services, which do not receive a single mention or direct policy measure. In doing so, the party has seemingly abandoned wireless competitiveness as an issue and unequivocally sided with the big telecom companies despite presiding over some of the world’s most expensive wireless services. The party platform is titled “Forward for Everyone” but not everyone moves forward in quite the same way with big telecom companies moving further ahead than Canadian consumers.
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Late last month – just weeks prior the national election call – Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault released plans for online harms legislation with a process that was billed as a consultation, but that is probably better characterized as an advisory notice, since there are few questions, options or apparent interest in hearing what Canadians think of the plans. Those plans include the creation of a bureaucratic super-structure that featuring a new Digital Safety Commission, a digital tribunal to rule on content removal, and a social media regulation advisory board. In terms of illegal content, the proposed legislation envisions a myriad of takedown requirements, content filtering, complaints mechanisms, and even website blocking.
Cynthia Khoo is an Associate at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law in Washington. She is also the author of a ground-breaking Canadian study for LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, on holding digital platforms accountable for technology technology-facilitated gender-based violence. She joins the Law Bytes podcast in a personal capacity to discuss the government’s consultation and her recent report.
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The Canadian government released its plans yesterday for online harms legislation with a process billed as a consultation, but which is better characterized as an advisory notice, since there are few questions, options or apparent interest in hearing what Canadians think of the plans. Instead, the plans led by Canadian […]
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Coming into the 2019 federal election, there were widespread concerns regarding disinformation campaigns, foreign interference, social media advertising and manipulation, and fake news. The federal government enacted legislation designed to foster greater transparency on political advertising, but on the heels of elections elsewhere, the prospect of online harms to the electoral process appeared very real. Taylor Owen of McGill University set out to find out what was actually taking place online. He joined me on the podcast shortly after the election to discuss how social media was being used, political advertising trends, the role of fact checking, and the presence of misinformation and fake news.
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Trade agreements have emerged in recent years as one of the federal government’s most frequently touted accomplishments. Having concluded (or nearly concluded) free trade deals with the likes of the European Union and South Korea, senior government ministers such as International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Industry Minister James Moore have held dozens of events and press conferences across the country promoting the trade agenda.
The next major agreement on the government’s docket is the Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive proposed trade deal that includes the United States, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan, Peru, and Chile. While other trade talks occupy a prominent place in the government’s promotional plans, the TPP remains largely hidden from view. Indeed, most Canadians would be surprised to learn that Canada is hosting the latest round of TPP negotiations this week in Ottawa.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the secrecy associated with the TPP – the draft text of the treaty has still not been formally released, the precise location of the Ottawa negotiations has not been disclosed, and even the existence of talks was only confirmed after media leaks – suggests that the Canadian government has something to hide when it comes to the TPP.
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