Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Governments Cyber-bullying Front Man Gets Taken To Task Online

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Glen Canning, the governments’ sales person on the controversial cyber-bullying bill has received a lot of flak recently from internet users over the past few days, for tweeting out a compromising picture on social media of an MSVU professor.  Those that have followed the cyber-bullying legislation through committee know that Canning was a stark defender of the cyber-bullying bill; often coming out strongly against those who had privacy concerns on the bill.

Canning’s daughter killed herself when compromising pictures of her were circulated online, and was aggressively cyber-bullied as a result of those pictures.  The Conservative Government had a hard time getting victims’ rights groups to fully support the controversial bill which enshrined into law lawful access provisions allowing the police warrant-less access to an internet users information.  Eventually they put Canning (a grieving father) front and center on the bill which polarized the debate around the bill.  Canning became a supporter of lawful access, and quickly became a polarizing figure in the debate surrounding the cyber-bulling bill as a result of his support for police access to information without judicial oversight.

Canning was recently approached by a female student at MSVU as a result of one of her professors trying to engage in sexual activity with her.  The professor sent her a nude photo of himself, in which landed in the hands of Canning, and was also sent to media outlets.  Canning (who I believe was well intentioned) tweeted out the photo prior to media reports on the story to try and gain public attention to this students’ case.  This lead to a lengthy discussion on reddit, social media, and blogs regarding Cannings’ actions since the cyber-bulling bill that was recently passed has a provision dealing with unauthorized sharing of intimate images.  Canning quickly removed the tweet, and continued to defend his actions.

Section 162.1 of the new cyber-bulling bill states:

162.1 (1) Everyone who knowingly publishes, distributes, transmits, sells, makes available or advertises an intimate image of a person knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent to that conduct, or being reckless as to whether or not that person gave their consent to that conduct, is guilty

It’s important to note that the cyber-bullying bill has yet to come into effect, so questions and debate around this case would be purely speculation, and whether the Canning image tweet qualifies as enforceable under the act, is also entirely open for debate.  One thing is clear cut though.  From the back lash that Canning is getting surrounding this issue, it’s clear that many Canadians have been closely following developments surrounding the new cyber-bullying bill, and the take home from all of this should be that Canadians are very concerned about their rights regarding this bill.

What I don’t agree with; the Government using a grieving parent to play politics and sell a bill that attacks Canadians rights. Canning has become a polarizing figure in this debate around cyber-bullying that I believe was intentional by design regarding the politics of the situation.  It’s quite easy for Government to distance themselves from Canning now that the bill has been passed, and I would strongly suspect that this will happen as a result of the online debate around Cannings’ tweets that will most certainly continue into the halls of parliament.

While I’m not defending Cannings’ move in tweeting these photos’, it’s apparent that there are underlying political issues surrounding this bill, and the debate needs to be focused away from grieving parents, and on to a so called “responsible” government who’s used Canning in an attempt to deflect political attention away from the Conservative party on a controversial bill that the population is extremely concerned about.

I quite strongly disagree with Cannings’ views regarding internet privacy,  as a father myself I have a great amount of respect for this person.  If I had lost a child in the way Canning did, I couldn’t care less about privacy.  That would be fraternal instinct, and I would be acting in much the same way Canning has been throughout the debate.  The government knew this on the political side of things, which is why Canning became front and center on this bill.  The new cyber-bullying bill C-13 is a bill that’s been sold on emotion, not substance, and those that disagree with the bill should note we have an election in a few months’ time.  Rather than attacking a grieving parent, Canadians should be using their right to vote to signal their discontent.

Any politician that has used grieving parents in the way the government has done to sell C-13, in my opinion doesn’t have the moral authority to lead, nor should command our respect at the voting booth.


Is Canada’s Broadcast Media Consortium Using Attack Ad Scandal to Push Copyright Political Agenda?

October 10, 2014 8 comments

Over the past few days the broadcast airwaves have been filled with stories relating to proposed changes the Conservatives want to make to the copyright law to allow them to use news clips in their political advertising without permission or compensation. Like many Canadians, I find attack ads distasteful, despicable, and a disgusting way of doing politics.  However like everyone in Canada political parties should be free to criticize political figures.  Criticism of political ideology is a very healthy exercise for democracy, even if you don’t agree with how it’s done, or what’s being said.

During my time in the copyright debates in 2009, the one thing I learned is that big media companies hate a piece of law in the Copyright Act called “Fair Dealing” which explicitly exempts copyright owners from being compensated under certain circumstances.  This is to protect free speech, education, political satire, research, and criticism from being controlled by rights holders.  Big media hates this provision because quite simply their not getting paid for their works.  The way CTV,  journalists, and opposition MPs are reporting this to the Canadian public is that the Conservatives would steal news content, and not pay for it.

Section 29, of Canada’s Copyright Act deals with the fair dealing exemptions (in which criticism is fully covered emphasis added):

29. Fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright.

R.S., 1985, c. C-42, s. 29;
R.S., 1985, c. 10 (4th Supp.), s. 7;
1994, c. 47, s. 61;
1997, c. 24, s. 18;
2012, c. 20, s. 21.

Previous Version
Marginal note:Criticism or review

29.1 Fair dealing for the purpose of criticism or review does not infringe copyright if the following are mentioned:

(a) the source; and

(b) if given in the source, the name of the

(i) author, in the case of a work,

(ii) performer, in the case of a performer’s performance,

(iii) maker, in the case of a sound recording, or

(iv) broadcaster, in the case of a communication signal.

1997, c. 24, s. 18.

Marginal note:News reporting

29.2 Fair dealing for the purpose of news reporting does not infringe copyright if the following are mentioned:

(a) the source; and

(b) if given in the source, the name of the

(i) author, in the case of a work,

(ii) performer, in the case of a performer’s performance,

(iii) maker, in the case of a sound recording, or

(iv) broadcaster, in the case of a communication signal.

1997, c. 24, s. 18.

I’ve quoted the fair dealing exemptions in full, because it’s important that Canadians know where the law lies on this.  Fair dealing is necessary to allow blogs like this to continue to criticize public policy without being taken down on copyright laws.  It allows journalists to report on the news, and it also allows Rick Mercer to suggest that the speaker of the house should be replaced by a bag of flour. The interesting question would be, if fair dealing already states that for the use of criticism no compensation or permission is needed to use the copyright protected works, why are the Conservatives introducing amendments to the copyright act to allow what’s already allowed, and why are the news agencies all pissed off about this.  It all comes down to the mighty dollar for the media companies.

The narrative that the Conservatives are stealing news content (which many of the journalists are using to describe legal fair use of their works) strongly suggests Canada’s Broadcast Media Consortium has issues with fair dealing uses of their works, not just by the Conservatives however; this could also extend to blogs, and other online media such as their works being used by youtube commentators and so forth. Canada’s Broadcast Media Consortium sent a letter to the Conservatives back in May demanding authorization (that essentially means they pay for the use of their copyright protected material) or they would not air the content (which under several laws, notwithstanding fair dealing, and election laws is illegal).

From here the Conservatives set out to clarify the law by sneaking in an amendment to the copyright act due to this threat from the Media Consortium who is not co-operating with fair dealing laws, specifically to allow political parties full access under fair dealing.  The problem is the Conservatives are well known for sneaking in unrelated stuff into their budget bills, and have a track record of being pig headed and dishonest about their intentions, to which the media (especially CTV) are playing up big time because they want people to pay for any use of their works, and seemingly disagree with the fair dealing clauses currently in law by the way they are framing this.  CTV News Channel had a large number of experts throughout the day yesterday that explicitly disagreed with the stations views on fair dealing.  During the nightly CTV’s National News cast, not one of those interviews made it to air.

There is an excellent interview with copyright lawyer Howard Knopf on the current situation as it relates to current law, and another good explanation of fair dealing. Also the fact that we have defamation laws that cover inaccurate and defamatory reporting when it comes to taking comments out of context.  If Canada’s Broadcast Media Consortium pushes this into court, they will have a very huge hill to climb, considering the Supreme Court has ruled on fair dealing cases 6 times  three times in recent years, so there’s a lot of precedents and case law moving forward that isn’t in the Consortium’s favor.

What’s also troubling is the political position of the Liberals on fair dealing.  Ralph Goodale stood up in the house of commons during question period yesterday and essentially repeated the fact that fair dealing is stealing.  Is the official position of the Liberal Party of Canada that fair dealing needs to be scrapped entirely?  That would kill free press/free speech in this country.

Like many Canadians I’m fed up with Conservative attack ads.  Rather than taking the approach to attack fair dealing in copyright law needed for among other things a free press, and free speech; why not introduce legislation or commit to a platform to deal with the decorum in Canadian politics?  That would be the grown up thing to do.  Unfortunately we’re going to be stuck with Conservative attack ads in the next election. The media consortium will back down, because legally it would be the battle of their life time with several precedents moving forward in favor of the Conservative’s position on fair dealing.  What we can do as Canadians, is vote.  If you don’t like attack ads, than don’t vote for the attacking party.  Plain and simple.

As far as journalistic integrity goes,  it’s not attack ads journalists have to worry about. It’s attacking the very principles within copyright law that allow for free press and free speech that does the most damage to a journalists reputation. This is coming from someone who received his broadcast journalism eduction at Niagara College in the 90’s which back then was the root school for CTV!  I got to know a lot of the CTV executives during my education there, and not one of them would have ever tolerated such bias around reporting like I’ve seen from CTV on this issue over the past few days.  In fact, if we had presented bias in our news reporting we would have been failed and kicked out of the course.  I’ll tell you this, I have a lot of thinking to do on exactly who I trust for political commentary after this story.  It puts questions on how independent our free press is, especially when commenting on important public policy such as copyright.  That’s way more disturbing to me than attack ads which I don’t pay attention too in the first place.

UPDATE: Another excellent post by copyright lawyer Howard Knopf on the fact that media themselves are now starting to become part of the story, with documentation accessed through access to information.  The documentation seems to suggest a planned political attack against the Conservatives by our major media news outlets, coordinated by CBC; all the while knowing their position on copyright and attack ads was very weak legally.

See also:

Conservatives Propose to “Amend” Fair Dealing Not Replace It

My Canadian Broadcast Standards Council Complaint on Media Consortium

New Mind Bending Politics Blog

I would like to introduce to my readers my new political blog called: “Mind Bending Politics”.  When I was in school for journalism, I had one professor that everyone loved, that took me under his wing.  He was a great guy, and got me very much interested in current events and politics.  One of the things I remember my journalism prof said, is that politics is the “soap opera” of journalists. What came after that statement was one of ethics and responsibilities journalists hold within our democratic society to ensure accountability within government.  As a result of my education around journalism I watch maybe 3 Canadian political shows daily, and 4 news casts per night before I go to bed, and read a lot during the day thanks to my professor on getting me addicted to politics and current events.  I’ve been doing this since 1996.  I also used to cover local politics, and pretty much ran the newsroom in my college years.  I’m well informed as a result.

I’ve been politically active for a while now on twitter and on this blog regarding digital rights issues.  I’ve been a long standing advocate not just on digital rights issues, but on government policy, civil liberties and the need to bring more oversight and accountability in our bureaucracy, and within our elected officials and system of government as well. I’m hoping to move that forward as an independent political pundit with my new blog, and offer up commentary on issues I feel are important for Canadians to learn about to stay informed politically.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, you will love my Mind Bending Politics blog.  I will be posting on that blog almost daily on issues and events.  I will still be posting on this blog regarding digital policy issues, but not as often as I have in the past.


Categories: cdnpoli, Commentary, Politics

Canada’s Pro-Internet Community At A Cross-Road

Back over a decade ago, I was having problems with Bell basically double billing my account for Sympatico internet services.  Like many in tech I took to customer forums to complain and was introduced to the Resident Broadband Users Association (RBUA).  I got to know these people pretty well.  They were made up of a lot of tech like minded people, some of which had worked in tech support for various ISPs.  I believe the founder of this organization worked with Rogers at one point, and formed this group to bring concerns of the tech community up directly with Rogers.

I got to learn over a few months what was then the early days of what’s currently being coined as “The Pro-Internet” community.  Basically what this meant back then was “tech friendly”.  One of the biggest achievements for the tech community I was told the RBUA had accomplished, was a successful push back against Rogers when the company was looking to abolish and block personal FTP servers. For the tech community we often bring our work home, so we needed quick access to files when we needed them when we were on and off site.

At the time I met these guys, they didn’t have a working relationship with Bell Canada.  I was invited to become a senior writer for this organization, and would have been in charge in trying to set up a working relationship with Bell.  At the time I couldn’t commit to the amount of time needed to fulfill this role and attend staff meetings, since I was in school full time learning computer sciences.  I kept in contact with the group sporadically over the span of a few years.  When trying to get back in contact with this group due to Rogers throttling in 2007,  I was told the association had folded due to various reasons and was given contact info for the newly formed Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC).

Traditionally the independent internet providers have often sided with the tech community.  From working in business at one of Ontario’s many independent ISPs in the mid-90s, I’d often worked with business IT professionals selling the idea that our companies were smaller, so we’d be more receptive to the needs of IT with our business clientele, and could adapt to individual needs.

During the Fair Copyright for Canada movement in which I was also very much a part of, the public for the first time got an education around things the tech community had been concerned about regarding things such as “Net Neutrality” and especially techs most hated topic, “copyright” and the effects “copyright” could have on net neutrality.  This was also during the heat of the battle against Rogers throttling when the public woke up on the tech community’s concerns.

In 2010 a new “advocacy” group popped up called “Openmedia” over public anger over the use of bandwidth caps.  This is where things seem to stray with respect to the traditional “pro-internet” community.  Openmedia essentially used concerns over bandwidth caps Canadian consumers had, and turned it into a lobbying issue with respect to the independent internet providers at the CRTC.

I’ve spoken with Steve Anderson several times.  He’s a very nice guy, has genuine concerns, however doesn’t seem to completely grasp the technical side of things, and seems more concerned about the politics of telecom policy than pushing the concerns most have in the traditional “pro-internet” community forward to the CRTC. His primary post secondary study was in film not tech.

There’s no doubt that being seen as “pro-internet” these days is good for the corporate bottom line, however today we’re at a very interesting cross roads.  The identity of the “pro-internet” community seems to be more and more dictated by two entities here.  One would be Micheal Geist (who’s personal ideologies sometimes stray that of the traditional crowd due to his pro-copyright stances), to Openmedia who from my past working relationship with them are more worried about the PR and how that can benefit their corporate donors. 

Don’t get me wrong, Openmedia is doing good work on “occasion”, however their successes have largely been built around a very misleading move regarding usage based billing, which should have not been used to influence its corporate donors market position.  Often times they lead from behind. As a result, the foundation isn’t strong enough to be sustainable for this group to last very long in my opinion if this group continues to stray and damage a lot of the ideology it’s supposed to be supporting.  Look at the issue of usage base billing now.  Are we better off as a result of Openmedia’s UBB campaign, not even in the slightest.

One of the things I’ve learned in over a decade of fighting for pro-internet (or pro-tech) ideology is dictation of the message from corporate influences on tech policy is exactly what they often fight against.  Our army is strong and growing by the day. One thing I’ve learned, is that the traditional pro-internet community are not “zombies”.   Over this past week, I’ve often wondered, how many bricks is it going to take, before the traditional pro-internet community has had enough, and breaks down this wall of corporate influence, not just with Openmedia, but how the term “pro-internet” is now being improperly used to garner support for being unfriendly to consumers, and the tech community on a whole.  I don’t even have to cite any examples here.  I think those in the traditional wing of this community who have been disillusioned by recent events, and following this blog for some time know exactly what I mean.

Coming from the grass roots of the pro-internet community myself, I think those that have strayed away from it don’t realize that every time the words pro-consumer or pro-internet are used out of context, to defend and sell very anti-consumer and unfriendly positions of those who formally supported this community in business in the past, puts yet another brick on the wall.

Canada’s Long Awaited Digital Economic Strategy Coming Soon

January 30, 2014 3 comments

According to a recent article (sub req) by, Canada’s long  awaited digital economic strategy has been finalized and ready to be released.  What I would like to see:

End Usage Based Billing

Back a few years ago Canadians came out in force against usage based billing.  Then Industry Minister Tony Clement stated on usage based billing:

“It’s a huge issue for a country that wants to move forward on the internet for jobs, for creativity, for innovation,”

Since the government got involved in overturning the CRTC on forcing independent internet providers to adopt the scheme, many independent providers are still currently using usage based billing on their own free will.  That’s been a problem for multi-media companies like Netflix looking to expand services into Canada.  It may also halt the breaks on expanding digital services for Canadian gamers. The fact that digital investors and innovators are turning away from Canada due to pathetic and unnecessary data caps is not in line with governments agenda on the creation of digital jobs, and the fostering of digital innovation if we are to follow Clements comments from 2011.  Usage based billing by all providers (not just Bell, Rogers, and Telus)  has been a really big whacking stick in this country for our digital economy.

Grants for Coders

As we move further and further out of the PC era, the IT jobs have shifted towards computer programming, and application development.  That trend will continue big time in the mobile and tablet platforms.  There is a country wide shortage on good coders right now.  Educational grants and employer incentives should be considered to bolster Canadian enterprise and retail app development fields, and help keep Canadian coders in Canada.

Deal With Mess That is Canadian Telecom

Internet access is essential to the digital economy.  It has to be affordable, and non-restrictive to bolster digital innovations. Without affordable internet access on all devices, access to the digital economy becomes restricted as it is right now.  This is not just the case in the wireless telecom sector.  Broad reaching reforms and regulations are needed to keep these teleco’s in check.

Grants for R&D

From Nortel to Blackberry the problems facing Canada’s tech sector is the inability to keep up with innovation cycles.  Current innovation cycles in IT are approximately 18 months from research to development to deployment. That time frame decreases year after year as computing power doubles each year. We need to bolster our tech firms to get ahead of the game in developing competitive marketable products.

Update Canadian Privacy Laws

One of the biggest draw backs to the digital economy always has been keeping your business and consumers information from preying eyes.  Companies are increasingly under new security threats, and Canadian businesses often see IT security as an unnecessary expense due to our lax privacy enforcement laws.  With Canada being a part of the Five Eye’s surveillance networks, our IT firms have taken a big hit.  Updating Canadian privacy laws to ensure companies are and remain compliant with law is now a must to instill trust in the Canadian digital marketplace to investors and consumers.


I’ll have extensive coverage of the Digital Economic Strategy on this blog once it’s released.

2013 Year in Tech Review

December 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Below is the audio of Steve and I’s 2013 Year in Tech Review Podcast. I’ll be throwing up the video to our youtube channel later on this week.  Hope you guys enjoy.  We got a lot of stuff planned for the show in 2014, including a self help and news tech blog, and the show will be getting a facelift in the next few weeks.  We hope you enjoy, and have a safe and happy new year!

Canadian Third Party Internet Providers Need A New Business Plan

September 29, 2013 Leave a comment

One of my first jobs out of college was that of VP of Business Development for a small southern Ontario Internet provider.  That was back in 1997.  Basically I was in charge of signing up corporate accounts to the ISPs, website development and planning.  Back then the Internet was viewed by many business owners as unsafe and a fad.  The three main objections I had when trying to sign up corporate business accounts were:

1) We don’t need to sell world wide

2) Privacy and security of customers data

3) Paying extra up front.  Basically third party providers bill for the month ahead, which incumbent ISPs billed at the end of the month, so they would be double billed on sign up.

The way I dealt with each objections:

1) Grabbed an internet search of related businesses in the area, and displayed competitors websites for the business, insisting that a website is more of a 24/7 customer care addition to the business rather than the selling of goods world wide.  Selling of goods could also be restricted to local customers only if they wished.

2) The privacy issues often required several followups to the business to build trust and an ongoing relationship with the individual directly.  Main rebuttal was that we were different from big corporations.  We deployed top notch security and coding and update the technical side of things to ensure privacy and security of CRM and business data throughout the networks.

3) The paying up front for a month was often a deal killer. About 50% of sold clients failed to sign on to this.  The only time I sold when this objection came up was when the business was irate with the level of service they received from their current ISP, or to sell them on why they should pay the extra amount by bashing our competitors.   I was very strong on the powers at be to get rid of this billing scheme, and closely align billing to that of incumbents to make it easier and a seamless transition to our ISP.  I saw it as a self inflicting wound, and could be very easily dealt with by pre-qualifying those with current connections to incumbents, and allowing more competitive billing options to those with incumbent accounts.

Corporate accounts are the life bread of any third party provider.  A large portion of third party residential customers at the time were coming to us due to falling back on their bills with incumbent providers. There wasn’t very much money to be made at the time in residential, and billing schemes remained a choice for each ISP to determine whether to bill like incumbents do, or to bill a month in advance (guaranteeing monthly payment).  A few months after I left my position for higher ground, several ISPs went under within a few years of each other.  After this, billing options on corporate accounts became more lenient with third party providers, however residential billing schemes largely remained the same (billing a month ahead) to protect the ISP from defaulted clients.

Back then, this renting from wholesale “incumbents” was supposed to be a “temporary” fix not a permanent one. It was determined that when third party providers reached a certain part of the market share (roughly 40 – 45% from what I remember) they would start laying down their own networks.  At least we had a dream and direction back then.

Fast forward to 2013. Third party ISPs still make up a very small portion of market penetration. The business model of bashing incumbents to get consumers so worked up that they will pay for the extra month (which is the main objection to switching) has become not only the norm, but becoming ridiculous.  It’s simply not allowing the expansion of growth needed for a competitive market in the ISP market.  Couple that with now the privacy concerns over NSA (not even a peep on mass surveillance from third party providers) and copyright, and you end up with not just substantially gigantic missed business opportunities to actually separate themselves from the self inflicting wounds of the past, but also become centered around market demands.

From what I’ve observed over the past few years on the policy front regarding third party providers, they are just as good as playing the CRTC up to protect their own business interests as incumbents are (all while claiming to be consumer centered to attract business through their main objection on billing). In fact, third party ISPs have infiltrated consumer advocacy groups to help push that line they care about consumers forward, rather than actually change their business practices to deal with the main objections in the market.

Recently Teksavvy customers have been dealing with long outages.  It’s no surprise that third party providers have been getting the back hand of incumbents.  It’s been a battle for survival and business interests on all sides at the CRTC since the CRTC mandated that incumbents provide wholesale to third parties.  This has been going on for years now if not decades with service issues. Teksavvy has recently filed a part 1 application in an attempt to change that.  I don’t like the circumstances surrounding this.  Why now?  Why not back a decade ago, why not a few years ago?  Why is it just Teksavvy doing this?

I agree with what Teksavvy has done here, I don’t agree with the situation which seems a bit engineered. Teksavvy has just come off of a large successful advertising campaign in Toronto.  It’s entirely possible that Rogers is dealing with a large influx of customers switching to Teksavvy as a result they are understaffed with respect to hooking people up with third party providers.  I agree that regulations need to be put in place to ensure a fair market place, but this is long time coming and should have been dealt with by third party ISPs years ago, if they were actually centered on consumers.

In my opinion, in order to solve the issues surrounding telecom competition in Canada, producers of telecom services need to start focusing on market needs and demands. Third party providers need to stop beating incumbents over the head all while not following market demands for billing and privacy.  There also needs to be regulations set in place for incentives to third party providers to start building their own networks. And above and beyond all of this, government and regulators need to do their own market research and come up with viable solutions to our competitive problem in Telecom.  Simply taking industry geared market research from either side (especially from those with close ties to indie and incumbent providers) is not providing an accurate take on what’s best for the consumer, and how to spark meaningful competition in the telecom market, as almost the past two decades have proved.

EDIT (October 3rd, 2013):  The Part 1 Application brought before the CRTC regarding service issues appears to be filed by the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC).  CNOC is the lobby arm of several small third party internet providers in which Teksavvy is a part of.  Questions still remain as to why we haven’t seen anything brought forward by the third party internet providers on service issues until now after consumers have been dealing with wholesale service issues for more than a decade.  Interested parties have until October 30th, 2013 to file comments on this application.  I will follow this situation on this blog as it develops.

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