Wiertz Sebastien - Privacy by Sebastien Wiertz (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ahk6nh
Canadian Chamber of Commerce Warns on Government-Backed Bill C-18 Motion: “A Serious Threat to the Privacy of Canadians”
Later today, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will vote on a government-backed motion that would compel Google and Facebook to disclose private third-party communications dating back years that could sweep in the private communications of thousands of Canadians. The motion, which is obvious retribution for opposing Bill C-18, is a stunning attack on the privacy of Canadians and could have a chilling effect on public participation. However, you don’t have to take my word for it. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has issued a dire warning about the motion in a public letter, suggesting it is undemocratic and urging MPs to reject it.
Government-Backed Motion Demands Disclosure of Years of Third-Party Communications With Google and Facebook in Retribution for Opposing Bill C-18
The government plans to introduce a motion next week requiring Google and Facebook to turn over years of private third-party communication involving any Canadian regulation. The move represents more than just a remarkable escalation of its battle against the two tech companies for opposing Bill C-18 and considering blocking news sharing or linking in light of demands for hundreds of millions in payments. The motion – to be introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (yes, that guy) – calls for a series of hearings on what it describes as “current and ongoing use of intimidation and subversion tactics to avoid regulation in Canada”. In the context of Bill C-18, those tactics amount to little more than making the business choice that Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez made clear was a function of his bill: if you link to content, you fall within the scope of the law and must pay. If you don’t link, you are out of scope.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 159: Fenwick McKelvey on the Rapid Spread of Government TikTok Bans
TikTok may be enormously popular, but according to the growing number of government, there are concerns regarding links between the app and the Chinese government. That has led to a rapid spread bans of the TikTok app on government devices not only at the federal level, but at provincial and municipal governments and even at universities for university-owned devices. But is TikTok unique in this regard? How to reconcile the government’s insistence that TikTok contribute to Cancon in Bill C-11 with it banning the app due to security risks? Are the privacy concerns more about TikTok or the government’s inaction on privacy reform?
Fenwick McKelvey is an Associate Professor in Information and Communication Technology Policy in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University and the co-director of the Applied AI Institute. He returns to the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the TikTok bans, the state of Canadian policy in addressing the concerns, and why we may be heading for more geo-political battles over digital policy.
The TikTok Block: Why Does the Canadian Government Seem to Embrace Weak Privacy Rules?
The Canadian government often talks about the importance of privacy, but actions speaks louder than words. Not only has privacy reform clearly not been a priority, but the government seems more than willing to use the weak privacy rules to further other policy goals. There is an obvious price for the government’s indifference to privacy safeguards and it is paid by millions of Canadians when major privacy incidents (think Tim Horton’s or Home Depot) result in no substantive changes and no urgency for reform from the government. Indeed, as I noted yesterday on Twitter, the government has managed to rush through user content regulation in Bill C-11 and mandated payments for links in Bill C-18, but somehow privacy reform in Bill C-27 has barely moved. Some of the responsibility must surely lie with Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who brings high energy to everything but privacy reform, but the decision reflects on the entire government.