Harper Government Should Consider NDP Tech Policies

For the record, I don’t support the NDP, and their fiscal policies are plain scary. But that doesn’t mean that their viewpoints on everything ought to be ignored. The NDP tech policies on issues such as net neutrality, usage based billing, and copyright are in many ways more compelling than the Conservative policies. Now that the Conservatives have a majority and don’t have to fight for their existence every day – lets hope they take a step back, take a deep breath, and take a fresh approach to tech issues.

The prosperous future of Canada is to a great extent dependant on the use of technology, the internet and wireless access, and all things digital. That is true for consumers, for business, and for innovators. It is important to have policies that foster that. That point will no doubt be made repeatedly at the Canada 3.0 Conference taking place today and tomorrow.

On the proposed lawful access bill for example. Either drop it all together, or take another serious look at it. Mr. Harper has said that the rights of ordinary citizens should be more valued than the rights of criminals. So recognize that individuals have privacy rights that ought to trump the ability for law enforcement to go on random warrant-less fishing expeditions into our digital lives. If that isn’t a good enough reason, recent data breaches should teach us that the easiest way to prevent a data breach is not to have the data in the first place. Don’t tempt fate by requiring service providers to retain information on customers that is not needed to provide their services. As well, requirements to retain data are in effect an additional tax on the tech sector. 

Copyright reform has been a hot topic for years, with many controversial bills being drafted but never passed. One of the issues that concern many of us are provisions that support digital locks. Those provisions do more harm than good, and in essence turn copyright policymaking over to rights holders. There is also the appearance – reinforced by recent wikileaks documents – that too much consideration is being given to the pressures of foreign entertainment lobbies and governments. The NDP policy on copyright merits consideration when drafting the next bill, as it seems to take a more balanced made in Canada consumer friendly approach.

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