My post addresses a matter of grave importance, the human rights of Indigenous women along the Highway of Tears and the role of communications law as a tool for positive change. Several times throughout the year, I find myself travelling along the Highway of Tears, infamous for the unsolved disappearances and murders of Indigenous women. I am always in disbelief at the long, isolated stretches of pavement, flanked by numerous hidden side roads, that do not have service. When travelling alone, whether day or night, it is often worrisome to think about. As an Indigenous woman, I can’t help to imagine how vulnerable I would be if I were to break down in one of these areas. Why is it okay for Indigenous women to be targets of violence here? The Highway of Tears is a distressing example of the intersection between human rights violations and systemic inadequacies in our society. Legal reform, in this respect, continues to be urgent – reform that ensures the safety and dignity of Indigenous communities, particularly women.
This calls for a reflective look into communications law, which, informed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), holds the potential to drive significant change. The alignment of BC’s legal framework with UNDRIP, as enacted through the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), provides an essential foundation for addressing these injustices.
However, we must confront a fundamental query: When will the severity of circumstances propel decisive legal action? Perhaps, not a question we are equipped to answer. Thus, how can communications law, as a legal instrument, inform necessary legal action? It seems, an answer could include a complex blend of 1) enhancing emergency communications infrastructure, 2) promoting culturally sensitive reporting, and 3) ensuring the active participation of Indigenous communities in policy formulation.
As law students, we understand the power of legal structures in shaping society. DRIPA not only aims to align with UNDRIP but also signifies a commitment to transformative change. By integrating these principles into communication laws (and beyond), we can achieve a framework that guarantees equitable access to services for Indigenous communities, a fundamental human right.
Potential meaningful reforms should cover improved connectivity, information empowerment, access to opportunities, cultural sensitivity in media representation, and inclusive policy development. We must advocate for enhanced emergency response systems and reliable telecommunications services to aid in the prevention of violence and improve investigation efficacy in MMIWG cases.
As future legal professionals, our role in promoting a just society, for all, is critical. It lies in advocating for the entrenchment of UNDRIP principles into BC’s legal standards, ensuring that Indigenous women’s voices are amplified, and their rights are unequivocally protected. We must collectively push for legal frameworks that respect Indigenous rights, promote safety, and foster substantive equality.
In conclusion, communications law reform is not only a regulatory adjustment, it is a key step towards acknowledging and upholding the human rights of Indigenous women. It is a clarion call for justice and recognition for those affected by the crisis along the Highway of Tears—a call that we, as a legal community, are obliged to answer in whatever capacity we can.
All my relations.
Amplifying Justice Along the Highway of Tears: The Critical Role of Communications Law Reform in Upholding Indigenous Women’s Rights
Please find here the link to my presentation slides for some interesting graphics!
(Presentation by Estelle B.)
The EU’s digital enforcer emphasized that the Digital Services Act (DSA) signifies the end of the era where major online platforms could act with an air of being ‘too big to care.’ The probe against X will focus on several key aspects of its operations, including the dissemination of illegal content, efforts to combat disinformation, restrictions on giving researchers access to data, and potentially deceptive practices associated with its Blue Tick subscription product.
The formal investigation will delve into four crucial areas:
- Dissemination of Illegal Content: The EU will scrutinize X’s role in the dissemination of illegal content, particularly in the context of Hamas’s terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7.
- Effectiveness in Combating Disinformation: The effectiveness of X’s efforts to combat disinformation will be under the EU’s microscope, reflecting the growing importance placed on platforms’ responsibility for content moderation.
- Restrictions on Data Access: The EU will investigate suspected restrictions on providing researchers access to X’s data, ensuring transparency and accountability in content-related matters.
- “Dark Patterns” and Blue Tick Subscription: Suspected deceptive practices, known as “dark patterns,” associated with X’s Blue Tick subscription product will be part of the comprehensive inquiry.
The DSA carries significant penalties for proven infringements, including fines of up to six percent of an online company’s global revenues. For serious and repeated violations, the EU can even ban a platform from operating within the 27-nation bloc.
Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in October 2022 and its subsequent rebranding as X, the platform has witnessed considerable changes, including a reduction in content moderation and reinstatement of accounts of banned extremists and conspiracy theorists. These have raised concerns in the eyes of the public. The replacement of the verification system with a subscription-based Blue Tick offer added another layer of controversy.
The platform’s value has suffered a significant blow as aa result. Advertisers have deserted X, with up to half of the top 100 US advertisers stopping spending on the platform altogether by October 2022. As the EU launches a formal infringement probe into X, the outcome will not only shape the platform’s future but also set a precedent for other major online platforms. The investigation underscores the EU’s commitment to enforcing stringent regulations on content moderation and combatting disinformation in the digital age, holding even the most influential platforms accountable for their actions. The world will be watching closely as the legal proceedings unfold, anticipating the potential impact on the landscape of online communication and content dissemination.
Here is the article on the story:
EU launches ‘illegal content’ probe into Elon Musk’s X
Nicane Mayne – The Law Fanatic
Hi everyone, please find my presentation via this link, thank you!
I wanted to follow up on my presentation from earlier this term with some thoughts as I ran out of time. Just to recap: my presentation was on the CRTC’s new Online Undertakings Registration Regulations. Towards the end of the presentation, I referenced the CRTC’s “Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2023-329” which is a document that reveals the CRTC’s process behind the creation of the Regulations. For me, the most interesting part of the policy document was the arguments that intervenors (i.e. corporations and associations that would be affected by the Regulations) presented for and against various elements of the Regulations and how the CRTC responded to those positions. I will attach the policy document below if you would like to take a closer look, but I will highlight some of the exchanges that stood out to me.
The parties disagreed on whether social media services (SMS) ought to be captured by the Regulations. Intervenors with interests in protecting traditional broadcasting undertakings, such as the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, argued that SMS “directly compete with radio and television services for content, audience, and advertising” and thus need to be captured (para. 157). On the other hand, corporations such as Meta, TikTok and Google argued for an exemption on the grounds that “the broadcasting activities on [their] services are minimal and entirely ancillary to the predominant purpose of [their] services” (para. 162). For Meta, its primary purpose is “to help people connect with friends and family, to help build communities and to help grow businesses” (para. 162); and for YouTube, it is “the dissemination of user-generated content” (para. 164). Nevertheless, the CRTC did not grant an exemption for SMS because of their “increasingly dominant role” in the advertising markets (para. 169). So, this aspect of the decision ultimately came down to money, not principle. Also, the CRTC emphasized registration (and in turn, collection of information) as an important first step towards further regulation, which mildly worries me about what the future holds.
Same with podcasts, the parties debated whether platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify ought to be captured by the Regulations. Apple argued that podcast platforms should be exempt because they are “merely a directory” for users to access free content generated by independent podcasters (para. 207). Opposing intervenors, such as Corus and Rogers, contended that these platforms offer paid-subscription podcasts as well, and in that respect, “[they act] as an online undertaking and [their] revenues should be captured” (para. 214). As for the CRTC, it concluded that podcasts and podcast platforms are captured by the Broadcasting Act. However, the CRTC provided minimal analysis and merely repeated statutory definitions: “the Commission finds that podcasts constitute programs under the Broadcasting Act, given that they are comprised of sounds intended to inform, enlighten or entertain. Further, […] the Commission finds that the transmission of podcasts over the Internet […] constitutes broadcasting” (para. 217). Personally, reading this section cemented an image of the CRTC as lacking in transparency and accountability.
Finally, I found it amusing that the CRTC described the podcast platforms’ function as a directory for independent podcasters as “akin to a program guide” (para. 220). It seemed to reveal the CRTC’s inability to let go of the past (i.e. television) as well as its determination in forcing novel online undertakings into the traditional broadcasting framework.
Thanks for reading and good luck on your exams!
By Jay Kim
Many browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox or Apple’s Safari automatically block third party cookies. Chrome has lagged behind, most likely because of the profitability of advertising which relies on cookies to facilitate targeted ads. Chrome announced in 2021 that they would block cookies in 2023, which they pushed to 2024. But now, it looks like Google is actively beginning to phase third party cookies out.
Instead of third party cookies, Google will add a “Privacy Sandbox” to Chrome. Working with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (the competition regulator in the UK), Google will implement an in-house tracking and data collection system. The Privacy Sandbox will still allow advertisers to gather data enough to profit from advertising, which Google alleges will keep the internet free. Their solution aims to solve the cross-platform privacy problem that third party cookies present – which is that you may be unaware which other parties have your data – while maintaining profitability. I would be curious to know how Firefox manages to be profitable without third party cookies.
I wonder, do we really need the amount of tracking we currently have for the internet to make enough money to provide excellent service? Regulators are clearly beginning to take action, so it will be important for internet companies to justify the extent of data collection. Stay tuned!
Resources of Note:
See Google’s blog post: https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/g/blink-dev/c/RG0oLYQ0f2I/m/xMSdsEAzBwAJ?pli=1
See PC Mag: https://www.pcmag.com/news/google-chrome-to-test-removing-third-party-cookies-in-q1-before-phaseout
I don’t know if everyone else has noticed, but today (Nov. 29), it was announced that Google has reached a deal with the federal government to continue posting news online. I thought this came at a super relevant time as one of our last presentations touched on this topic (and the course in general).
Google stated they preferred negotiating with Canadian media organizations via “a single point of contact” versus “a mandatory negotiation model.” This is something the federal government has allowed, which would limit Google’s arbitration risk.
I found it interesting that the federal government has “softened” their stance on the issue, but perhaps this is a good thing as Canadians will continue to have access to online news. Also, we won’t need to switch over to Bing. This also makes me wonder where Meta will go now, as Meta and Google were really the only organizations Bill C-18 was aimed towards. Will they follow suit? Or will they continue to block Canadian news? Only time will tell and I’m curious to see what will happen once Bill C-18 comes into force. (Jenny Jang)
Are you playing Fortnite, or is Fortnite playing you? This is a reasonable question worth asking in light of the recent court cases involving privacy concerns with the use of digital platforms, and not just Frotnite. Privacy is a legitimate concern when sharing data over the world wide web, and privacy policies don’t seem to appease us that we have nothing to worry about, and may even do quite the opposite.
Something worth reading before my presentation on this topic:
My presentation will focus on whether Fortnite and similar platforms are violating and rules and how this is currently being addressed.
I look forward to interacting with you!
Recently I have been interested in the AI boom, especially with all the discussions we have had in class about AI. I have also been curious about NVIDA’s stock boom during the last year. Turns out that the GPU technology that NVIDIA has focussed on for the longest time has given them a competitive edge in the AI space as these GPUs are especially useful for the “math involved in AI computing” (Reuters, 2023). Mr. Huang, CEO of Nvidia, realized the completive advantage that its GPUs could bring and “invested Nvidia’s resources in creating a tool to make GPUs programmable, thereby opening up their parallel processing capabilities for uses beyond graphics” (Morris, 2023). I am curious to see how Intel, AMD, or companies that make in-house chips compete with NVIDIA. I am also interested to see if NVDIDA can keep up its growth within this space.
Reuters. (2023, June 14). Explainer: Why are Nvidia’s shares soaring and what is its role in the AI boom? Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/technology/why-are-nvidias-shares-soaring-what-is-its-role-ai-boom-2023-05-25/).
Morris, B. Z. C. &. B. (2023, May 30). Nvidia: The chip maker that became an AI superpower. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-65675027
In the past I’ve used the book chapter: Copyright Liability and Music ‘Piracy’: Capitol Records v Thomas-Rasset from the book Intellectual Property Excesses as a citation in one of my papers on piracy. It’s a United States case that found Thomas based on copyright infringement of 24 songs to be liable for $200.000, $1.92 million, $1.5 million and finally returning to $222.000. It is a case that exemplifies the massive amount of damages that have been found against someone for piracy.
In contrast to this older United States case, I have a recent article from the Toronto Star also in pdf form bellow for your viewing pleasure that outlines how a Canadian lawyer (Ken Clark) works around Canada’s notice-and-notice regime. A system that hides users identity and prevents blackmail settlement offers being forwarded to alleged pirates. However, there is a process for a rights holder to go through the system with a Norwhich order case to find the owner of an internet connection and sue them (often with the intention of settling as per what Ken Clark practices). Rogers Communications Inc. v. Voltage Pictures  best explains this process.
My presentation tackles the effectiveness of Canada’s notice-and-notice regime in light of actors such as Ken Clark, the liability of those that are part of the piracy process (touching on international figures) and if this anti-piracy system is effective while serving a proper purpose.