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Technology law column by Michael Geist

The Great Canadian Personal Data Grab

The Royal Bank of Canada updated its mobile application for Android users earlier this month. Like many banking apps, the RBC version allows users to view account balances, pay bills, and find bank branches from their smartphone. Yet when users tried to install the app, they were advised that the bank would gain access to a wide range of personal data.

Canadian Government Quietly Pursuing New ISP Code of Conduct

With the cost of cybercrime in Canada on the rise - a new report released last week by Symantec, a security software vendor, pegged the cost at $3.1 billion annually - the Canadian government is quietly working behind-the-scenes to create a new Internet service provider code of conduct. If approved, the code would be technically be voluntary for Canadian ISPs, but the active involvement of government officials suggests that most large providers would feel pressured to participate.

The Untold Story Behind the LAC-Canadiana Digitization Plan

The need for a large-scale Canadian digitization strategy has been readily apparent for many years, with experts repeatedly pointing to the benefits that would come from improved access to Canadian history and culture. While other countries have marched ahead with ambitious projects that often incorporate historical text records, photographs, and video, Canada has fallen behind. 

How the Government Can Put Digital Consumers First

Reports over the past week have indicated that the government plans to unveil a "consumer first" agenda for its upcoming Speech from the Throne. The speech, which will set out the federal legislative and policy agenda for the next two years, is widely viewed as the unofficial start of the 2015 election campaign. 

Canada Complicit in Undermining Internet Privacy

­As the tidal wave of disclosures on widespread U.S. surveillance continues - there is now little doubt that the U.S. government has spent billions creating a surveillance infrastructure that covers virtually all Internet and wireless communications - the question of Canada’s role in these initiatives remains largely shrouded in secrecy.

Regulated Wireless Roaming Fees May be on the Way

The Labour Day weekend ended with a bang for telecom watchers as Verizon, the U.S. giant that was contemplating entering the Canadian market, announced that it was no longer interested in moving north. That decision represents a major loss for consumers, who would have benefited from greater choice and increased competition.

Canadian Universities Navigate Learning Curve for New Copyright Rules

As students and faculty prepare to head back to campus this week, many will be greeted by new copyright guidelines that clarify how materials may be used without the need for further permission or licensing fees. Just over a year after the Supreme Court of Canada released five landmark copyright decisions in a single day and the Canadian government passed copyright reform legislation over a decade in the making, the education community has begun to fully integrate the new copyright landscape into campus policies.

Time for Canadian Privacy Regulators to Take Action on Pervasive Surveillance

As the near-weekly revelations of pervasive surveillance activities generates both debate and mounting opposition in the United States and Europe, the Canadian reaction has remained somewhat muted. Following an initial flurry of coverage over the surveillance activities of Canadian intelligence agencies, the issue has largely disappeared despite evidence that Canadian data is regularly collected by foreign intelligence agencies, most notably the U.S. National Security Agency.

Does it Matter Where Your Data Lives?

Does it matter where your computer data such as email, digital photos, personal videos, and documents resides? The Canadian Chamber of Commerce apparently doesn’t think so. It recently joined forces with its U.S. counterpart to argue for new rules in the Trans Pacific Partnership - a proposed new trade agreement that includes Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia and many other Asian and South American countries - that would create barriers to privacy protections designed to require that personal data be stored locally.

CRTC Ruling a Small Step Toward Broadcast Overhaul

Coverage of last week's Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruling on mandatory carriage of a couple of dozen channels may have focused on the future of the Sun News Network (no mandatory carriage that would have guaranteed payment from all cable and satellite subscribers) and the monthly cost of cable and satellite bills (a very small increase since virtually all new proposals were rejected), but the decision really represents a small step toward a complete overhaul of Canadian broadcasting regulation that is likely to unfold over the next ten years.


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