Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Be sure to question candidates on copyright reform

Update: The Harper Government fell in a non-confidence vote on March 25, 2011 at 2:20pm.

Later this week, the 40th Parliament will be dissolved and an election will be called. Opposition parties are anxious to bring down the Conservative minority government, whether by voting against the budget or by a non-confidence vote for being in contempt of Parliament.

When Parliament is dissolved, every bill that has yet to be passed, including the current copyright reform bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, will "die on the order paper". It will be up to the next Parliament to introduce a copyright reform bill, if they choose to do so.

This also means that copyright should become an election issue. Whether or not you're satisfied with bill C-32, now is the time to exercise your democratic muscle and express any concerns you may have with your (soon to be campaigning) Member of Parliament. Be sure to question all of the candidates who are running in your riding about their views on copyright reform, digital locks and fair dealing, and compare their responses. If you're not satisfied with their answer, don't vote for them.

(Interestingly, this also marks the third time that a copyright reform bill has died because of an election being called: Bill C-61 died in 2008 under the Harper minority government, and Bill C-60 died in 2005 under the Martin minority government).

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Federal Privacy Commissioner outlines proposed changes to PIPEDA

In a previous post I outlined some of the priorities of Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart as she enters her new 3-year term.

One of her priorities is to strengthen PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, when it faces a mandatory review by Parliament later this year.

The main items that Stoddart has hinted she'll push for include increased enforcement powers for the Federal Privacy Commissioner and tougher penalties for companies found to have failed to comply with PIPEDA, including publicly naming violators.

With regards to enforcement and penalties, Commissioner Stoddart notes that Canada has "become one of the few major countries where the data protection regulator lacks the ability to issue orders and impose fines." In contrast, "the CRTC has the power to to impose fines for violations of the do-not-call rules (and recently slapped Bell Canada with a record-setting $1.3-million penalty)." In addition, "there are significant fines – $10 million for businesses – provided for in the new anti-spam law." Furthermore, privacy regulators like the UK Information Commissioner and the Spanish Data Protection Agent all use their enforcement powers to successfully signal that privacy violations will be met with financial penalties.

Finally, Commissioner Stoddart candidly admitted that there is a growing discomfort with the secretive nature of privacy investigations under PIPEDA:
It seems to me that not naming names is robbing the Canadian public of much of the educational value of our investigative findings.