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Technology law column by Michael Geist

The Tax-Free Six Step Approach to a Digital Economy Strategy

Several months ago in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Industry Minister Christian Paradis promised to unveil a Canadian digital economy strategy by the end of the year. Unless there is a late December surprise, however, 2012 will end in the same manner as every other year - with Canada as one of the only developed economies without a clear plan for success in the online environment.

Secrecy the Standard as Canada Enters Trans Pacific Partnership Talks

Despite growing opposition in Canada, the Canadian government has begun formal participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, aimed at establishing one of the world's most ambitious trade agreements.

As nearly a dozen countries - including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Mexico and Vietnam - gathered in New Zealand last week for the 14th round of talks, skeptics here have already expressed doubts about the benefits of the proposed deal.

The File Sharing Lawsuits Begin: Thousands Targeted at TekSavvy

Given recent reports that a Montreal-based company has captured data on one million Canadians who it says have engaged in unauthorized file sharing, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before widespread file sharing lawsuits came to Canada.

File Sharing Lawsuits Could Lead to Clogged Courts as Canadians Rely on New Liability Caps

The Canadian Internet community has been buzzing for the past week over reports that a Montreal-based company has captured data on one million Canadians who it says have engaged in unauthorized file sharing. While that represents a relatively small percentage of Internet users in Canada, the possibility of hundreds of thousands of lawsuits over alleged copyright infringement would be unprecedented and raise a host of legal and policy issues.

UN Internet Meeting About Who Pays, Not Who Rules

Should the Internet be treated like traditional phone services when it comes to regulation and pricing? That is the contentious question as the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency with roots dating back to 1865 and the interconnection of telegraph services, meets in Dubai next week for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). The WCIT is a treaty-writing event that has attracted growing attention given fears that the ITU and countries such as Russia plan to use it to press for greater control over the Internet.

Supreme Court Serves Stunning Reminder of the Patent Bargain

The House of Commons Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has spent the past few months hearing from a myriad of companies on the Canadian intellectual property system. With few public interest groups invited to appear, one of the primary themes has been the call for more extensive patent protections, as witnesses link the patent system to innovation and economic growth.

What the New Copyright Law Means For You

More than a decade of debate over Canadian copyright reform came to a conclusion last week as Bill C-11, the fourth try at reform since 2005, formally took effect. While several elements of the bill still await further regulations, the biggest overhaul of Canadian copyright law in years is now largely complete.

The wholesale changes have left many Canadians wondering how the law will affect them, as they seek plain language about what they can do, what they can't, and what consequences they could face should they run afoul of the law.

How Canadians Reclaimed the Public Interest on Digital Policy

The fall of 2007 was a particularly bleak period for Canadians concerned with digital policies. The government had just issued a policy direction to the CRTC to adopt a hands-off regulatory approach even as consumer prices for Internet and wireless services were increasing. Meanwhile, the Department of Public Safety held a semi-secret consultation on Internet surveillance where mandatory disclosure of subscriber information was assumed.

Supreme Court Confirms Privacy Rights Survive in the Workplace

Millions of Canadians go to work each day, turn on their workplace computers, and wonder whether they have also shut off their privacy. Many employers seek to remove any reasonable expectation of privacy by telling employees that they should not expect any privacy when using workplace computers during company time.

CRTC Pushes Bill of Rights for Consumers

Earlier this month, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission invited the public to help create a national code of conduct for wireless companies such as Bell, Rogers, and Telus. The consultation is expected to generate widespread interest, providing frustrated consumers with an outlet for grievances on lengthy contracts, problematic terms and conditions, exorbitant roaming costs, or onerous cancellation fees.

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