Michael Geist has provided several excellent posts regarding the Canadian political parties’ positions regarding the Internet and the online economy. It would appear that all of the major political parties have committed to “sweeping reforms” for the online world.
The Conservative party will reshape the Internet in Canada with a three-pronged approach focused on information disclosure, mandated surveillance technologies, and new police powers.
- The first prong mandates the disclosure of Internet provider customer information without court oversight. The police want to know where you surf or what you search, they just ask for it.
- The second prong requires Internet providers to re-configure their networks to perform real-time surveillance. The bill sets out detailed capability requirements that will eventually apply to all Canadian Internet providers, including the power to intercept communications, to isolate the communications of a particular individual, and to engage in multiple, simultaneous interceptions.
- The third prong creates several new police powers designed to obtain access to the surveillance data without warrant and by request.
The NDP is emphasizing control in the handing out of Internet access, with a commitment to using spectrum auction proceeds for broadband access, a requirement that ISPs support the creation of new networks, rescinding the market-oriented policy direction to the CRTC, bringing net neutrality into law, prohibiting usage based billing schemes and retaining foreign investment restrictions in both the telecom and broadcast sectors. There is also a commitment to introduce a bill on copyright reform, but not much more.
The Liberals have identified eight key principles for defining and reshaping the “digital economy”:
- The Liberals say they will invest $500 million to ensure all Canadians have access to at least 1.5 Mbps broadband within three years, using the wireless spectrum auction to fund this initiative.
- Focus on digital literacy and skills to close the “digital divide”.
- The Liberal copyright position is that Canadian consumers should have the freedom to use their content for personal purposes.
- They promise increased funding for Canadian culture in the digital environment as well as support for the CBC.
- The Liberals propose a new tax credit designed to encourage investment in digital startups.
- Support for an Open Internet, net neutrality and support for review of the usage based billing issue.
- Open government returns, with a promise to make all government data freely available online and to post results of Access to Information requests on the Internet.
- The Liberals promise action on digital threats, which presumably could include privacy reform.
Either way you slice it, there is some good, some bad, and some unclear, unknowns in the mix. Visit Michael’s articles for detailed information about each party’s stance.