News - All

  • – 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.

  • – 2011-09-26 –

    If you own a .ca domain and are a registered CIRA member, it's time to get your vote on! This week, a total of four CIRA Board of Director positions are up for election. There are only two days left to cast your ballot through the quick online process at

    The internet is a public resource and we all need to ensure that the public interest is at the forefront of internet policy.  We at CIPPIC encourage you to vote for those candidates with the public interest of an open, equally accessible, and secure internet at the forefront of their minds. In particular, we can speak to the excellent capabilities of Bill St. Arnaud, Kevin McArthur, and Marita Moll.

  • – 2011-08-15 –

    CIPPIC has filed a motion to intervene in the Supreme Court of Canada case of Rogers v. SOCAN. This follows CIPPIC's filing of a similar motion last week to inteverne in a companion case, ESA v. SOCAN. In these two cases, SOCAN proposes that it should be allowed to levy more fees on online distributors of music and videos games. However, as CIPPIC proposes to argue, these online distributors already pay fair compensation to rights holders. They do so by licensing the right to reproduce and distribute music online, in much the same manner that traditional retail services obtain the rights to sell CDs and sell video game on DVDs. The additional fees that SOCAN proposes will only slow innovation and raise costs to customers.

  • – 2011-08-08 –

    CIPPIC speaheaded a group of privacy experts comprised of academics and public interest organizations today in calling on the government to rethink a set of legislative proposals (innocuously dubbed 'lawful access') that threaten to seriously undermine online privacy. In doing so, the group of privacy experts have added their voices to the 46,000+ Canadians who have already signed an online petition, Charlie Angus and Jasbir Sandhu (NDP Privacy Spokesman and Public Safety Ciritic, respectively), the BC Civil Liberties Association, as well as to Canada's federal and provincial privacy Commissioners, collectively, all of whom have already stated grave concerns with respect to the proposed erosion of online privacy.

    Presented as merely an application of existing powers to the evolved technological landscape, in the words of Canada's Privacy Commissioners, "it would be misleading to suggest that these bills will simply maintain capacity." In fact, as previously introduced, the legislation represents a serious increase of power that the privacy experts have referred to as 'chilling' and, in addition there is the "everpresent threat of abuse." This type of expansion in surveillance power should only be undertaken with great care and where demonstrably necessary. Again, in the words of Canada's Privacy Commissioners, "at no time have Canadian authorities provided the public with any evidence or reasoning to suggest that CSIS or any other Canadian law enforcement agencies have been frustrated in the performance of their duties as a result of shortcomings attributable to current law, TSPs or the manner in which they operate."

  • – 2011-07-24 –

    This Wednesday, July 27th, the Forum to Stop Online Spying will be held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. The forum will examine issues arising from proposed cyber surveillance legislation that threatens to undermine online privacy in serious ways. The forum will be hosted by the SFU School of Communication, with support from, the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, and the BC Civil Liberties Association.

  • – 2011-06-30 –

    CIPPIC and PIAC, as members of the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), have joined 80 international civil society groups in rejecting a set of OECD Internet policy-making Principles set out in a Communiqué on Principles for Internet-Policy Making. While recognizing the efforts of multiple OECD stakeholders to accommodate civil societ concerns regarding the Principles set out in the Communiqué, CIPPIC was ultimately unable to support it in that many of the most important amongst these principles were completely undermined by their implementation within the Communiqué.

  • – 2011-06-23 –

    Charlie Angus and Jasbit Sandhu, the NDP Ethics, Privacy and Digital Issues Spokesman and Public Safety Critic, respectively, in a letter to Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, are calling for careful scrutiny of a legislative proposal that threatens to create a "digital panopticon" where online citizen actions can be tracked at rates unprecedented in Canada.

    The letter highlights a number of concerns, foremost of which are the warrantless disclosure provisions in the proposed legislation, which will force telecommunications service providers to identify anonymous customers upon request. Anonymity is key to any meaningful privacy protection online, and such identities will be the doorway to a host of personal information ranging from online political speech on blogs to exposing the social connections of anonymous accounts on services such as Twitter, to geolocation data. Yet under these lawful access bills, state agents will be given the power to seize such information, even where there is no reason to suspect it will be useful to an investigation.

  • – 2011-06-23 – has launched a petition to stop the Government's online spying mandate. The petition, which is directed 'lawful access' legislation the federal government has committed to pass as part of an omnibus bill within 100 days of Parliament's sitting, expresses concern with the broad, warrantless powers that the government seeks to put in place without any real oversight. These powers are troubling in that they will allow state agents to identify anonymous online users in situations where there is not even any reason to suspect the information will be useful to an investigation. Indicative of this concern, the Privacy Commissioners of Canada had collectively denounced the lawful access bills, as drafted, in a historic joint letter to the government in May.

    The bills will also require telecommunications service providers to build in spyware back doors into their services so that police can more readily intercept the communications of users. Such back doors open security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals, for example, and the petition points out the detrimental impact this will have for the personal information of Canadians. Finally, the petition is concerned that Canadians will be forced to bear the weight of this costly surveillance program through tax dollars