Weekly News Roundup (Feb. 1)

By: Brittany Green

 Top Stories this Week

Bell Media announces nationwide layoffs (CRTC) https://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-star/20170201/281956017512883

Good riddance to a bogus boreal forest ‘agreement’ (Defamation Canada) https://www.pressreader.com/canada/national-post-latest-edition/20170201/282243780321586

Fired CRTC commissioner takes cabinet dismissal to court; On the recommendation of Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, Raj Shoan was fired as regional commissioner for Ontario (CRTC) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/fired-crtc-commissioner-takes-cabinet-dismissal-to-court/article33847866/

Use your loyalty to bargain with department stores; Sears customer service falls short over points redemption, until a Star columnist gets involved (Access to Information Canada) https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/01/31/use-your-loyalty-to-bargain-with-department-stores-roseman.html

Accessibility advocate appeals access to information fee (Access to Information Canada) https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/30/accessibility-advocate-appeals-access-to-information-fee.html

Top International News

Mystery over Chinese tycoon’s disappearance from Hong Kong (Censorship International) http://www.cp24.com/world/mystery-over-chinese-tycoon-s-disappearance-from-hong-kong-1.3265968

Breitbart speaker at Berkeley stirs debate over free speech (Defamation International) http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation-world/sns-bc-us–free-speech-or-hate-speech-20170131-story.html

Weekly News Roundup (Jan.26)

 By: Brittany Green

Top Stories this Week

Ottawa still failing to provide health care on reserves: report (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-still-failing-to-provide-adequate-health-care-on-reserves-report/article33746065/)

Greenpeace argues Resolute racketeering suit ‘brute force’ intimidation (http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/01/24/news/greenpeace-argues-resolute-racketeering-suit-brute-force-intimidation)

Judges rules in favour of university in open-records case (http://www.metronews.ca/news/world/2017/01/24/judges-rules-in-favour-of-university-in-open-records-case.html)

Help wanted: Ottawa posts top CRTC job; The federal government is officially looking for applicants for the top job at Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/help-wanted-ottawa-posts-top-crtc-job/article33712613/)

Top International News

French internet censorship rose sharply in 2016 (https://www.google.ca/search?q=French+internet+censorship+rose+sharply+in+2016&rlz=1C5CHFA_enCA709CA709&oq=French+internet+censorship+rose+sharply+in+2016&aqs=chrome..69i57.365j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8)

China cracks down on tools used to get around web filters (http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-china-cracks-down-on-tools-used-to-get-around-web-filters-2017-1)

Weekly News Roundup (January 18)

By: Brittany Green

Top Stories this Week

CRTC braces for emergency video and texting (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/next-generation-911-crtc-braces-for-emergency-video-and-texting/article33631341/)

Woman can’t sue Alberta regulator in fracking case: Supreme Court (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/woman-cant-sue-alberta-regulator-in-fracking-case-supreme-court/article33617446/)

My pal the car; Emotionally intelligent vehicles a technological dream – and a potential privacy nightmare (http://business.financialpost.com/news/transportation/my-pal-the-car-emotionally-intelligent-vehicles-a-technology-dream-but-potential-privacy-nightmare)

Ex- Halifax Professor Sues Over Explicit Photo Posted to Twitter (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/01/16/ex-halifax-professor-sues-over-explicit-photo-posted-to-twitter.html)

Prominent ‘Nazi Hunter’ Solomon Littman Dies at Age 96 (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/12/prominent-nazi-hunter-solomon-littman-dies-at-age-96.html)

Canada is a Prime Cybercrime Target- and it Needs Help Tackling Threats, Report Warns (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/01/11/canada-is-a-prime-cybercrime-target-and-it-needs-help-tackling-threats-report-warns.html)

Top International News

Cambodian PM Hits Opposition Chief with New Defamation Suit (http://www.metronews.ca/news/world/2017/01/18/cambodian-pm-hits-opposition-chief-with-new-defamation-suit.html)

Russia hopes for pragmatic dialogue with US under Trump (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/01/17/world/europe/ap-eu-russia-foreign-minister.html)

Weekly News Round Up (January 13th)

By: Brittany Green

Top Stories this Week

Advocates Ask Ottawa to Kill the Internet Tax as Liberals Ponder New Fees: https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/01/10/advocates-ask-ottawa-to-kill-the-internet-tax-as-liberals-ponder-new-fees.html

Trudeau’s Arts Chief Heads to China in Pivot from Protectionism: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-09/trudeau-s-arts-chief-heads-to-china-in-pivot-from-protectionism

CRTC Commissioner Departs Leaving Another Top Spot Vacant: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-tech-desk/crtc-commissioner-departs-leaving-another-top-spot-vacant-at-regulator

CSIS Assessing Bulk Data Collection Records Show: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/csis-assessing-bulk-data-collection-records-show/article33544884/

Mondays Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/inside-the-market/mondays-analyst-upgrades-and-downgrades/article33545734/

Premier Unplugged: Brian Pallister Defends Sparse Email Use: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pallister-email-costa-rica-1.3925006

 

Top International News

Fake News the Latest Weapon in War: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/fake-news-the-latest-weapon-of-a-new-kind-of-war-410070505.html

Pressure on Obama to Grant Last Minute Pardons Communications: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/pressure-on-obama-to-grant-last-minute-pardons-commutations-1.3228284

Backpage Execs Refused to Testify Sex Trafficking Hearing: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/national-govt–politics/backpage-execs-refuse-testify-sex-trafficking-hearing/mt9gKyNciDceSVHvoqL8KP/

Why Privacy Matters

By: Coralie Zaza

Since 2009, The United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has been commissioning a series of publications on Internet Freedom, presenting edge-cutting studies conducted by experts on the topics of online freedom of expression, privacy, safety, hate speech to intermediaries’ liability and Internet governance principles. Through these studies and their mandate, UNESCO seeks to promote a free, open and accessible Internet space as part of promoting comprehensive freedom of expression online and offline.

On December 9, 2016, after a three-day forum on Internet Governance held in Guadalajara, Mexico, UNESCO launched its eighth publication titled Human rights and encryption. This study addresses the relevance of encryption to human rights in the media and communications field and offers policy recommendations for state practice and other stakeholders. The study, in response to five overarching research questions (page 12), makes several recommendations, notably that the representation of the human rights angle in the debates about encryption policy must be strengthened.

“What ultimately matters, from a human rights perspective, is that cryptographic methods empower individuals in their enjoyment of privacy and freedom of expression, as they allow for the protection of human-facing properties of information, communication and computing. These properties include the confidentiality, privacy, authenticity, availability, integrity and anonymity of information and communication.” (page 60)

During the same Internet Governance forum, UNESCO also held a workshop on social media and youth radicalization in the digital age, as part of an on-going research leading to a publication in the next six months. Ms Rebecca MacKinnon, Internet freedom advocate, and co-founder of the citizen media network Global Voices Online, delivered the following message:

“Protecting human rights online and offline and defending civil society and independent journalists are the solutions to solve radicalization in the long run, instead of censorship as a band-aid over the real illness.”

This study and workshop were presented in a heated political context. On one hand, the American President-Elect does not hesitate to encourage hackers to break privacy laws by accessing Hillary Clinton’s email servers and publishing their findings; on the other hand, a Canadian spywatcher publicly suggests that, had Edward Snowden been working for CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) when he leaked classified information, he would have been shot. Privacy in the Internet age is an ongoing battle, and concerns all Internet users, not simply hackers and leakers. The average Internet user has more to hide than they realize. Free expression and transparency should not be associated with a lack of privacy, but while raising global awareness is a first step towards change, it remains the stakeholders’ and policy makers’ responsibility to ensure the respect of human rights online and in legal drafting.
Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, discusses the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. In a TedTalk from 2014, he explains why privacy is important, a “question that has arisen in the context of a global debate, enabled by the revelations of Edward Snowden that the United States and its partners, unbeknownst to the entire world”; a question that “has converted the Internet, once heralded as an unprecedented tool of liberation and democratization, into an unprecedented zone of mass, indiscriminate surveillance.” His talk ultimately encourages journalists (as the voice of the media) and Internet users to remain vigilant, educate themselves on the topic, support companies that value privacy, protect their own privacy whenever possible, and find a way to make their voices heard.

From an academic perspective, “Western legal theorists like Alan Westin and Jürgen Habermas have observed that rising recognition and protection of privacy have accompanied the rise of modern democracy, public institutions, and the press. The recognition of the right to privacy is historically associated with rising levels of liberty, freedom, and democracy. However, critical legal scholars also point to the ways that law and government always, ultimately, serve transnational corporations and the capitalist class. Privacy laws are no different, and today, many widely-accepted privacy principles permit pervasive corporate, and even government surveillance, with few effective safeguards for citizens” (Sara Bannerman) [1]
The UNESCO publications and the rising awareness on privacy and human rights are proof that citizens are starting to fight back, but there is a long way before the policies and laws protecting digital privacy and freedom of expression are entirely understood, discussed and reformed.

[1] This conclusion is an extract from Sara Bannerman’s upcoming textbook on Canadian Communication Policy & Law, chapter on “Privacy”.

Netflix vs. The CRTC: The War on CanCon

By: Brittany Green

Over the past couple of years, Netflix has managed to take the broadcasting industry by storm. Its ease of use, flexibility, and mobility, make watching television and movies more accessible than ever before. With soaring cable costs that offer few benefits, many are dropping their cable companies in favor of streaming services like Netflix. In fact, 190,000 Canadians said good bye to their cable packages in 2015 (CBC). While Netflix gives Canadians a more affordable and convenient way to access popular programming, it poses some bigger issues for the Canadian broadcasting and cable industries.

Recently, Netflix came under fire for is their lack of Canadian investments and for the fact that, unlike other Canadian broadcasters, it is not required to follow Canadian Content (CanCon) regulations.  Is Netflix actually to blame for the lack of investment? Or should more fingers be pointed at the CRTC, who is in fact in charge of implementing such regulations?

In 1999, the CRTC first looked at this issue through its new media decision, which held that the CRTC was legally entitled to regulate new media, but chose not to do so, creating an exemption that excluded online video services from conventional broadcast regulation” (The Star).Since the 1999 decision, the CRTC has “revisited the new media decision on several occasions and despite the pressure to create ‘contribution programs’, they have maintained the idea that new fees are not needed” (The Star). The only change that has been made is the requirement that online broadcasters must disclose information to the CRTC if requested (The Star).

While Canadian Heritage’s Creating Content in a Digital World public consultations closed last week, it became quite evident over the consultation period that the regulation of Netflix (and similar forms of new media) were still on the forefront of the agenda for the CRTC. The two most popular subjects for debate included whether or not Netflix should be regulated under the Broadcasting Act and subjected to paying into the Canada Media Fund, and CanCon regulations.

On November 24, Netflix publicly responded to the Creating Content in a Digital World public consultations, stating that they make “substantial investments in film and TV productions in Canada and should not face regulation” (Financial Post).  However, though this statement it is clear that Netflix defines “investments” and how the CRTC defines “investments” significantly differ. Netflix’s vice-president of content, Elizabeth Bradley stated, “We want to continue to invest in content in Canada in the way we have, which means continuing to spend money but not under a system that’s similar to the Canadian broadcasters, where there’s a regulation and paying into the (Canada Media) Fund” (Financial Post).

Instead of spending money under a system, Netflix argues that they contribute to investments through the creation and promotion of Canadian content. According to the online streaming giant, in this year alone they have “commissioned hundreds of millions of dollars of original programming produced in Canada” and have “also made dozens of commitments in 2016 for Netflix original movies and TV series that will be produced in Canada” (Financial Post).

Essentially, argument comes down to is what does this mean for the future of Canadian content? For many users, the low costs associated with Netflix is a large selling feature, and many Canadians are opposed to a tax-induced price increase that would be associated regulation. On the other hand, without regulation, Canada’s cultural industries could be jeopardized. This concern comes from the fact that Netflix, a company solely based out of the United States, has the freedom to produce whatever content they deem fit and categorize it as “Canadian”.

On November 24, 2016 the Networked Government Communications Lab hosted a public consultation for the Creating Content in a Digital World initiative, where topics such as Netflix Regulation were discussed and debated. If you’re interested in learning more about the lab or future events be sure to check back often.