Byron Holland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). View bio
Earlier this week, the Federal Government introduced legislation to curb spam in Canada. Bill C-28, the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act (FISA), replaces Bill C-27, which died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in December 2009.
According to Industry Canada’s website, Bill C-28:
“ . . . provides a comprehensive regulatory regime that uses economic disincentives to protect electronic commerce and is modelled on international best practices. To enforce the legislation, the bill would use the expertise, and expand the mandates, of the three enforcement agencies: the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Competition Bureau Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.”
Bill C-27 was a decent piece of legislation and it appears that C-28 is very similar.
As the CEO of the organization that runs the .CA registry and the Domain Name System that underpins it, I strongly support measures to reduce spam. It is the bane of our industry; an incredible amount of traffic on our servers is spam, and it is a drain on our resources.
I encourage Parliament to ensure the quick passage of Bill C-28.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Canada 3.0 Forum in Stratford, Ontario. This event drew together Canadians involved in digital media to talk about key issues facing Canada’s digital community. It was incredibly inspiring to spend a couple of days in the company of some of Canada’s most influential digital leaders, and got me thinking about the importance of what CIRA does.
At CIRA, it’s our Board of Directors who set the policies and strategies that steer our activities. That’s why this time of year is so important to CIRA – this week we started accepting applications from Canadians to join our Board.
It’s an important job and an incredibly rewarding one as well. Board membership provides opportunity to:
- Work with leaders in the Canadian Internet community.
- Help shape the strategies and policies that affect the .CA domain.
- Gain insight and experience around technical innovation, Internet policy and organizational governance.
I know it sounds a tad overstated, but it really is your chance to help shape the Internet in Canada.
If you are interested, I encourage you to visit our elections website for more details. Applications will be accepted until June 11.
A few items from the news caught my eye over the past few weeks, and I’d like to bring some attention to them.
First, the draft text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was released – or at least part of it. I’ve blogged about some of the provisions in the ACTA that make me nervous, here and here. Until we actually got to see what was in the agreement, in some respects what I was blogging about was simply speculation. The three strikes text has been removed from the Agreement. This appears to be a good sign; however, all references to specific country positions have been removed, and the negotiations are still anything but transparent. Yesterday, the European Union called on Canada to support more transparency for ACTA negotiations, calling for the negotiations to move to the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO. This is an issue I’m going to be following very closely.
On a related matter, the federal government will introduce “new” copyright legislation within six weeks. This has raised the ire of many people and organizations in Canada as it appears that the legislation will not include any of the recommendations from the public consultations held on copyright reform last year. Rather, it sounds like the new bill will closely resemble Bill C61, originally introduced to Parliament in 2008. It died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in December 2008.
There are a few items in Bill C-61 that made me uneasy. The legislation would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to notify a subscriber if there has been an allegation of copyright infringement made against them. Once an allegation has been made by a copyright holder the ISP would be required by law to retain customer data for six months from the day they receive the claim. This makes me uneasy as there is no judicial oversight proposed – it is simply a private company retaining your personal information, including a history of your Internet activity, based on an allegation of wrongdoing. However, since we don’t yet know what will be in the new legislation, it’s a little premature to comment, but it’s another issue to follow, for sure.
On a positive note, last week was a big week for the Internet. On May 5, the first three top-level domains in non-Latin characters were inserted into the DNS root zone. I’ve blogged about what the introduction of International Domain Names (IDNs) means, and I’m proud of CIRA’s support of their development. Congratulations to the team at ICANN on this historic accomplishment!
Lastly, if you’re at the Canada 3.0 conference in Toronto, plan to attend the Usage of Networks – The Can of Worms session. Yours truly will be one of the panelists, along with Jim Roche and Scott Vanstone. The panel will be moderated by Chris Labrador, the VP of Advanced Technology at RIM. I encourage you to come out as it’s shaping up to be a dynamic session on networks in Canada. If you can’t make it to Canada 3.0, no worries: I will be posting my speech to this blog on Wednesday morning.
As a relative newcomer to the world of blogging, I have been very conscious of the role that I, and other bloggers, play in the mass media. We have become what many are terming, the “new new journalism”, not to be confused with the new journalism of the 1960s and 1970s. Although I don’t believe mainstream journalism can ever be replaced, bloggers in many cases do make an important contribute by not only writing about their opinions and personal experience, but through investigation, research, and analysis. There is no question that this resonates with many segments of society – otherwise, we wouldn’t have our respective followings.
Bloggers must strike a careful balance between accurate, relevant reporting, with expressing one’s own opinion. I personally feel committed to responsible blogging as it is important that single voices do not overtake public discourse. That said, as the blogosphere expands and carries more influence, we see that in countries that don’t protect freedom of speech, bloggers can suffer the same fate as journalists when they express opinions or report on facts unpopular with the government. This is never acceptable.
This morning, CBC covered the story Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian Newsweek writer who was arrested in Iran last year and spent 118 days in prison. This case demonstrates just how vulnerable journalists are, regardless of where they are from.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 136 journalists were in jail and 71 murdered worldwide in 2009. Threatened Voices reports that to date, 232 bloggers have been threatened or arrested around the world.
I feel fortunate to live in a country that is committed to freedom of speech for all. It is important to remember, though, that so many in the world do not enjoy this protection. They are vulnerable to persecution and prosecution for anything from talking politics with a neighbour to posting a blog about government policy.
With this in mind, I hope you will join with me in recognizing World Press Freedom Day. This is a day that raises awareness of the perils that journalists face by simply doing their jobs. I know I will certainly pause today to consider the vital contribution that traditional journalists and “new new journalists” make to society.