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A word on copyright reform

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Last week, after months of speculation from critics and the media, the Minister of Industry unveiled new amendments to Canada’s intellectual property law, the Copyright Act. Previous attempts to revamp the legislation in 2005 dropped off the radar when Parliament went into election mode. This largely extinguished public debate of the bill, which Canada’s privacy champions had spoken out against. At the time, the privacy commissioners of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia all expressed similar concern over the government’s direction.

Two years later, it looks as though opposition is igniting again – with a host of opposition critics, legal experts, ,IT professionals, consumer advocates, IT professionals, educators and media weighing in on the repercussions to be felt if various provisions of the new law actually come into force. One advocacy group, organized online through Facebook, has attracted tens of thousands of members, all opposed to the legislative provisions.

Parliament is to adjourn for the summer this week, so lawmakers will not examine the bill in depth until the fall – after they’ve had time to digest months of feedback from constituents, industry and others. With the bill’s new emphasis on customer monitoring by Internet service providers, being rolled out at the same time as deep packet inspection, the increasing behavioural targeting of advertising and new provisions for government investigators to access internet customer data, we expect MPs will be hearing from their constituents — whether at barbeques or by mail — over issues ranging from consumer profiling to citizen surveillance, from online anonymity rights to questions of intellectual freedom.

To get more information on this summer’s debate over the future of the Internet in Canada, check the links.

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