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Technology law column by Michael Geist

Getting Signals Straight in the Great Wireless War

The great wireless battle of 2013 continues to unfold with Bell, Rogers, and Telus - the big three incumbents that dominate the Canadian market - calling for "fairness" in Canadian telecom policy. Their concerns with the policy represent a notable shift, since they described it as "thoughtful and balanced" when it was unveiled by then-Industry Minister Christian Paradis in 2012. The same companies now say the rules will create a "bloodbath" since they fear the potential entry of Verizon Communications, a U.S. telecom giant with the power to shake up the Canadian market.

Secret Surveillance Puts Internet Governance System at Risk

One year ago, many Internet users were engaged in a contentious debate over the question of who should govern the Internet. The debate pitted the current model led by a United States based organization known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (supported by the U.S.) against a government-led, United Nations-style model under which countries such as China and Russia could assert greater control over Internet governance.

Moore's Mission: Put Canada's Digital Economy Back on Track

One of the headliners behind last week's federal government cabinet shuffle was the shift of James Moore, formerly the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to Industry Canada. The Minister of Industry position holds the promise of having a significant impact on the Canadian economy, as the department is responsible for everything from competition policy to foreign investment reviews to telecommunications regulation.

The "Miracle in Marrakesh" Provides a New Path for Digital Access

Negotiators from around the world gathered in Marrekesh, Morocco late last month for a diplomatic conference aimed at concluding a new United Nations treaty to improve access to copyrighted works for people who are blind or have other perceptual disabilities. Despite years of discussions, there was ample reason for pessimism.

The treaty talks had become bogged down in the months leading up to the conference, with large lobby groups such as the Motion Picture Association working feverishly behind the scenes to undermine it through changes to rules on digital locks and fair use.

Verizon Entry to Canada Could Spark Shift Toward Single North American Communications Market

Reports that U.S. telecom giant Verizon may be preparing to enter the Canadian market has sparked considerable speculation on the likely impact of a company with a market cap greater than Bell, Rogers, and Telus combined. While much of the discussion has centered on wireless pricing, the more significant development may be the shift toward a single North American communications market.

Celebrating the Canadian Digital Policy Success Stories

As Canadians grapple with news of widespread secret surveillance, trade agreements that could upend intellectual property policy, and the frustrations of a failed wireless policy, there are plenty of digital policy concerns. Yet on Canada Day week, it is worth celebrating the many positive developments that dot the Canadian digital policy landscape.  Eight of the best include:

Canadian Surveillance Laws Can't Handle Modern Day Snooping Technologies

Revelations about secret surveillance in the United States involving both Internet-based communications and the collection of metadata from all cellphone calls immediately raised questions about the possibility of Canadian involvement or the inclusion of Canadian data. Given the common communication infrastructure and similarities between Canadian and U.S. laws, it seemed likely that Canada was engaged in much of the same activities.

Canadian Surveillance Laws Can't Handle Modern Day Snooping Technologies

Revelations about secret surveillance in the United States involving both Internet-based communications and the collection of metadata from all cellphone calls immediately raised questions about the possibility of Canadian involvement or the inclusion of Canadian data. Given the common communication infrastructure and similarities between Canadian and U.S. laws, it seemed likely that Canada was engaged in much of the same activities.

Will Canada Stand Up for the Rights of the Visually Impaired?

New technologies have opened the door to greater access for millions of people who are visually impaired, yet copyright law frequently stands in the way. This is particularly true in the developing world, where digital works are often unavailable due to legal restrictions. On June 17, delegates from around the world will gather in Marrakesh, Morocco for a diplomatic conference to negotiate the final text on a new United Nations treaty that is designed to improve access to copyrighted works for people who are blind or have other perceptual disabilities.  

Can Canada's Failed Wireless Policy Be Saved?

Earlier this year, Industry Minister Christian Paradis unveiled the Canadian government's strategy to increase competition in the wireless sector. Acknowledging the challenges, Paradis promised to "continue to pay close attention to what is going on and to make sure that our policies reflect the fact that we want to achieve the goal of having more competition."

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