Michael Geist: Time to hit the reset button on digital policies

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and chairman Jean-Pierre Blais will take centre stage early in the new year as it releases the results from several hearings, most notably the “TalkTV” consultation that will undoubtedly include mandatory “pick-and-pay” television packages for consumers. CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Four digital policy questions should be top of mind this year as Canada moves toward a federal election.


By Michael Geist

January the 2nd, 2015

A new year is traditionally the time to refresh and renew personal goals. The same is true in the digital policy realm, where despite the conclusion of lawful access, anti-counterfeiting, and anti-spam rules in 2014, many other issues in Canada remain unresolved, unaddressed, or stalled in the middle of development.

With a new year – one that will feature a federal election in which all parties will be asked to articulate their vision of Canada’s digital future – there is a chance to hit the policy reset button on issues that have lagged or veered off course.

There is no shortage of possibilities, but the following four concerns should be top of mind for policy makers and politicians:

The centerpiece of any national digital strategy is connectivity since ensuring that all Canadians have access to affordable, competitive high-speed Internet services is a basic pre-requisite for most other issues. To the disappointment of many, last year’s long overdue digital strategy included a connectivity target that ranked among the weakest in the developed world.

Its speed target of 5 Mbps is not even considered high-speed in some countries and the government’s goal of 98 per cent access means that thousands of Canadians will still not even have access to that speed. With the United States recently setting a 10 Mbps target, Canada should rethink its approach by at least matching the U.S. benchmark and setting a clear aim of 100 per cent coverage.

The Digital Privacy Act
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  1. The CRTC, read Harper government, will bend and support the best interests of Telus, Shaw, Rogers et al. The consumer will be told to take second or third best, and like it… Sad …


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