News - All

  • – 2012-02-08 –

    CIPPIC co-hosted a Public Forum on Internet Surveillance in Ottawa today, with the objective of discussing issues arising from the government's lawful access legislative agenda. The Public Forum, which was held at St. Paul University, kicked off with a book launch for "The Internet Tree: The State of Telecom Policy in Canada, 3.0". This book launch was followed by screenings of two mini-documentaries: "(Un)Lawful Access: Canadian Experts on the State of Cyber-Surveillance" & "Moving Toward a Surveillance Society", each exploring different elements of the online spying debate. Finally, the event closed with two panels:

    • Lawful Access: Legal & Technical Questions. Moderator: Roch Tassé. Panelists: Stephen McCammon, Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner of Ontario; John Lawford, Public Interest Advocacy Centre; Kirsten Embree, Fraser, Milner, Casgrain; Christopher Parsons, PhD Candidate, University of Victoria;
    • Lawful Access: Policy Roundtable. Moderator: Dr. Michael Geist. Panelists: Charlie Angus, MP (NDP); Elizabeth May, MP (Green Party); Charmain Borg, MP (NDP)
  • – 2012-01-19 –

    If you visited our website yesterday, you most likely noticed the following black-out page covering the entire site:

 joined countless other websites in going entirely dark, or at least notionally censoring, our web pages for the day.  This action was part of a worldwide protest against the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). The black-outs aimed to give web users a feel for what the internet could become under the purview of the proposed U.S. legislation -- that is, an internet where you might attempt to visit your favourite website, only to find that it was censored and blocked on the basis of aggressive U.S. content policies.
  • – 2012-01-16 –

    The federal government is presently seeking input from the public on their "Open Government" initative. This consultation covers open data, open information, and open dialogue. The comments from the public will help the government define a new strategy to improve these important facets of an open and transparent government. Today is the last day to submit comments; thus, if you have not already done so, we strongly encourage you to participate in this consultation now. You can simply step through the government's question-by-question online form at

    You can view CIPPIC's own suggestions for the government here.  We encourage the government to:

    • release all data on the portal under a Creative Commons license, or place it into the public domain;
    • mandate that each government department immediately releases at least several high-value datasets;
    • create a searchable full-text database of all responses to access to information requests;
    • move towards a practice of releasing all public sector data and information as the default policy (and holding back information only where there is a legitimate security of privacy risk); and
    • place all released government documents, reports and other information in a centralized repository and under an open license.
  • – 2011-12-12 –

    Last week, at climate action talks in Durban, Environment Minister Peter Kent complained of a "lack of commitment" on the part of other countries. However, a new Ecojustice report puts Canada's own commitment into serious question with respect to environmental law enforcement.

    Most disconcerting to us at CIPPIC, the author of the report, Will Amos, describes the available compliance information on environmental protection laws as a "hodge podge of incomplete data". Many of the key findings in the report point to a critical failure of the government to comply with principles of open government and open data . In fact, even though the Canadian federal government emphasized a commitment to open government in September and agreed to join the Open Government Partnership (which it has not yet done), many of the problems to which EcoJostice points directly relate to non-compliance with this partnership's Open Government Declaration (which Canada still has not yet signed)...

  • – 2011-12-05 –

    All too often, the crux of a legal case becomes an argument between large organizations over minute points of law. However, make no mistake about it: the copyright cases before the Supreme Court of Canada tomorrow will directly impact the everyday activities of most Canadians.  Our interns produced several excellent videos to illustrate the ramifications of these appeals:

  • – 2011-12-02 –

    Next Tuesday, CIPPIC will make oral arguments in the "Copyright Pentalogy", a set of five copyright case that the Supreme Court of Canada will hear from December 6-7.  These cases are likely to have a major impact on the scope of your fair dealing rights, as well as on how much you will pay in the future for online music, videos, and video games.  You can watch CIPPIC's oral arguments online on Tuesday at the Supreme Court of Canada's live webcast.

    The Supreme Court already granted CIPPIC leave to make written submissions on these important issues. CIPPIC provided the Court with advice in the following factums...


  • – 2011-10-19 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled this morning that the online posting of a hyperlink does not constitute a publication of a defamatory statement.  This unanimous decision in Crookes v. Newton upholds online free speech rights, maintaining that an online link will only be defamatory if it actually repeats defamatory material.

    In its decision, the Court largely concurred with CIPPIC's arguments at the hearing that a hyperlink merely identifies the location of an article, but does not incorporate the text or in any way adopt it.  Links among websites create the fabric of the web and play a pivotal role in social media as users rapidly share links amongst each other.  The threat of liability for the mere posting of a link would unnecessarily chill the further development of online media and social spaces.  The S.C.C.'s ruling importantly permits internet users to continue sharing links without looking over their shoulders.

  • – 2011-10-12 –

    Municipalities create and own a valuable set of data.  This data ranges from bike lane maps to trash collection schedules to city financial statements. Over the past few years, many Canadian municipalities have setup “open data portals” to release this data to the public.  This increases the effective use of the data by allowing citizens to retrieve, view, and re-use city information.

    All city open data portals require users to agree to the terms of a license. Unfortunately, many of these licenses fall short of making the data truly "open" and reusable.  This report focuses on one problematic restriction: the “share-alike” obligation.  Although share-alike can serve a useful purpose in some contexts, it does not fit well with municipal open data portals.  Read the full report here.

  • – 2011-10-05 –

    The CRTC issued today the results of Broadcasting and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-344, a 'fact-finding' expedition launched in may of this summer with the objective of re-examining the impact of online video distribution services (referred to somewhat derogatorily as 'over-the-top' services) on traditional broadcasting Act objectives. The fear underpinning this fact-finding expedition was that new online video services such as Netflix will introduce competition a character that traditional broadcasters cannot compete with. In its submission, CIPPIC argued that cries of alarm from traditional broadcasters are greatly exaggerated, and that the commission should refrain from taxing or otherwise regulating online video services or risk stifling online innovation and service migration. CIPPIC also argued that, by its nature, the Internet avoids problems relating to distribution of Canadian content as issues of scarcity do not arise. In its report, issued today, the Commission adopted this 'hands-off' approach, at least until the issue is scheduled for re-assessment in 2015. The Commission also mentioned the need to develop new tools for more accurate assessment of the impact and scope of online video services, and, unfortunately, appeared to have accepted the need to monitor the 'out of control' network (wireline and mobile) traffic growth online video is generating. CIPPIC has addressed traffic growth fear-mongering in past submissions to the CRTC, and most recently in its comments and replies to the TNC CRTC 2011-77.

  • – 2011-09-29 –

    The Government of Canada announced a new copyright bill this morning, entitled the Copyright Modernization Act. The government claims it is identical to Bill C-32, which the Conservative minority tabled last year. This bill proposes many important updates to Canadian copyright law. If passed, it will legalize  activities that Canadians already do on a daily basis: record television, copy songs onto MP3 players, and make backups of DVDs. The bill contains provisions to legalize the ordinary digital activities of many internet services, such as search engines and websites. It also importantly extends fair dealing to include education, parody and satire.

    Unfortunately, the bill also succumbs to U.S. pressure and makes fair dealing -- including the new exceptions for the many ordinary activities of Canadians -- illegal whenever there is a "digital lock" on a work.  A digital lock will trump all other rights, forbidding all fair dealing and keeping a work locked up even after its copyright term expires. Overall, these digital lock provisions are some of the most restrictive in the world.