Plethora of Pending IT Legislation

Those who practice in the IT area have a lot of potential new law to digest. The Federal government has several bills in various stages that will affect many businesses and organizations, and all of us as consumers. These bills have been mentioned on Slaw, but I thought it was worthwhile listing them all in one place. 

Bill C-28 Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act.

This bill brings in several anti-spam measures. While this is welcome by most people, the language has the possibility to affect how typical businesses communicate. Things that we may not consider to be spam might get caught by the act. Since the penalties are significant, we will have to take a close look at this before it is in force to understand what it means for a typical business or organization. 

Bill C-29 An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

This would make several amendments to PIPEDA. Most of the amendments were expected, and are welcome as they address issues that have arisen from the current legislation. There are a couple of new parts that could use some clarity, though. Language that attempts to clarify what “lawful authority” is that allows one to release information to law enforcement doesn’t really seem to clarify what the threshold of proof is, or what to ask for. It also contains language that requires notification of breaches in certain circumstances to both the privacy commissioner and the affected individuals. The language has threshold tests – which on the surface are not as clear as they might be. If this language stays, it may take a privacy commissioner decision and/or court decision to clarify the threshold. The best source for more information is David Fraser’s blog

Bill C-32 Copyright Modernization Act.

This is the latest of several attempts over the years to amend the Copyright Act. Controversial elements include digital lock provisions that will allow publishers to trump user rights. There has been a lot written about this, including a book entitled From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda written by several copyright experts. The best source for more information about the bill is Michael Geist’s blog.

Bill C-51 An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act aka Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act.

There also appears to be at least one companion bill, C-52. This is the latest incarnation of what has been dubbed a “lawful access” bill. The bill essentially tries to give law enforcement more access to electronic communications. Critics refer to the bills as “awful access”, and point to the erosion of privacy and the costs ISP’s will need to spend. They also question the practical effectiveness of the measures. This bill is hot off the press, and I have not had time to look at it – but in general I fall into the “awful access” camp. Expect more commentary on this from both Michael and David.

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