Latest News

PIAC Position Paper on Digital Contact Tracing Technologies

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020
As part of PIAC's filing a CRTC Part 1 Application Regarding “COVID Alert” App, “ABTraceTogether” App and Related Matters, we filed in the Appendix a Position Paper, giving full exploration of digital contact tracing technologies (DCTTs).  To make this document, A “Privacy-First” Canadian Public Policy Approach to Digital Contact Tracing Technology (“DCTT”) Related to COVID-19 & Future Pandemics, more visible, we have separated this document out at this link. This study was prepared by Deborah Smith-Webber, external counsel to PIAC. PIAC also has discussed our Application to the CRTC regarding COVID Alert and ABTraceTogether, among other DCTTs, in our first "We Fight for That" podcast, which is available for download now. Please subscribe! We are also preparing our next podcast to update you on the status of this Application.

“We fight for that” – PIAC’s podcast launched!

Friday, September 11th, 2020
OTTAWA, 11 September 2020: "We fight for that" - the new podcast from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), launches today. This first episode includes an introduction to PIAC, asking and answering why you, as a Canadian consumer, keep asking "Am I Going Crazy?" when you have a problem with your purchases and subscriptions; and a detailed explanation of PIAC's COVID Alert app CRTC Application, that seeks to limit government access to any personal information from contact-tracing in Canada.  The podcast is available on all major podcast providers.  Please find our main podcast page at this link. We hope you enjoy listening

PIAC files new CRTC Application regarding COVID Alert, Alberta apps

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020
OTTAWA - 9 September 2020 - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) an Application requesting CRTC oversight of potential linkages between IP addresses generated by use of Health Canada's "COVID Alert" app (as well as similar uses of IP addresses and additionally, mobile phone numbers, by the "ABTraceTogether" app in Alberta) and telecommunications subscriber information. The Application requests that the CRTC ensure that all Canadian cellphone and Internet companies'  involvement in potential or actual linkages of information from contact-tracing apps to confidential telecommunications information held by cellphone and Internet companies for public health purposes is done in accordance with privacy requirements of Canada's telecommunications law. PIAC Executive Director John Lawford stated: "Now we know how COVID Alert and ABTraceTogether work, PIAC sees a potential personal information "leak" if the government uses info from the apps to ask cellphone companies for more information on users. The CRTC must set out rules limiting any such access requests by the government to protect Canadians' privacy."

Social Justice Articling Position at PIAC (2021-2022), Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario – APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED

Thursday, June 4th, 2020
Social Justice Articling Position at PIAC (2021-2022), Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario – APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED Description for Social Justice Articling Positions Funded  by the Law Foundation of Ontario  Name and Location of Organization:  Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)  2-285 McLeod Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 1A1  For Articling Year: 2021-2022  Deadline for Application: July 20, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. (EST)  Interviews the weeks of: 17 August and if necessary, 24 August  Offers will be made: August 28, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. (EST) 

Seniors and Consumer Groups Petition to Cabinet Restore Paper Billing for Koodo Wireless Customers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
OTTAWA, June 2, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) filed yesterday a Petition to Cabinet of the Federal government to reverse the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision to allow Koodo Mobile (owned by TELUS Communications Inc.) to change their customers’ monthly bill from paper to electronic format. “Canadian consumers deserve a paper bill if they want or need one,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC.  “The CRTC and wireless companies pretend that seniors and others will not be hurt but that’s not what we heard,” he added.

Ottawa, we have a communications problem …

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020
OTTAWA, 12 May 2020 – The Mid-Year Report 2019-2020 of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows that Canadian communications customers face a crisis of confidence due to the actions of their service providers. Wireless issues, as in previous years, continue to lead all services in consumer complaints – with 10,527 (44.2%) out of all 23,839 telecommunications and paid TV service complaints – representing a huge 28% year over year increase in wireless complaints relative to other services. However, most disturbing in the report is that the leading complaint category for all services (wireless, home Internet, home phone and TV) was found to be “disclosure issues” – a CCTS euphemism for non-disclosure of key terms or providing misleading information about terms of service to the customer. For the first time, such disagreements topped the more mundane issue of “incorrect charges”, followed, as usual, by “intermittent/inadequate quality of service”.

PIAC Calls for CRTC Oversight of Contact-Tracing Apps and Networks

Monday, May 4th, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed an Application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requesting oversight of pandemic "contact-tracing" apps and network services that may be offered for Canadians to download to their smartphones. The Application requests that the CRTC ensure that all Canadian telecommunications service providers’ involvement in potential or actual pandemic contact-tracing for public health purposes is in accordance with privacy requirements under Canada's telecommunications legislation. PIAC Executive Director John Lawford stated: "PIAC is seeking oversight, clarity and transparency from the CRTC so that Canadians know what role their mobile wireless service providers and home internet providers may play in COVID-19 tracking and that they appropriately safeguard privacy while not in any way impeding appropriate public health measures."

Canadian Consumers Demand Internet, Wireless COVID-19 Relief

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020
OTTAWA, April 7, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), ACORN Canada (ACORN) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) together called today for the Federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canada’s Internet service providers (ISPs) and Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) to do more for Canadians.  Their list of demands includes calls for unlimited internet access and low-income Internet and wireless plans to help all Canadians stay connected while isolating at home. “Canadian government has told Canadians to stay at home which we are doing,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC.  “But this means that Canadians must have affordable Internet and wireless service to survive and stay informed. We demand that the government, the CRTC and ISPs and WSPs do more for all Canadians,” he added.

PIAC Office Closed Temporarily due to COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) physical office space will be closed, being a non-essential business, for the duration of the Ontario order requiring only essential workplaces be operating. PIAC staff will be working from home until further notice. We continue to make regulatory submissions, to hold government decisions up to public scrutiny and to advocate for consumer rights during this period. We are available to all media via video. PIAC will emphasize actions and information relevant to consumers as they attempt to fairly and reliably get access to essential services such as telecommunications (Internet, wireless and phone) and broadcasting; air travel protection and redress; privacy; retail banking including mortgages; and competition and general consumer law in a time of uncertainty and scarcity. We trust in the power and compassion of the public in these difficult times to support all of our interests.

PIAC Welcomes COVID-19 Responses by Internet Service Providers, Wireless – UPDATED 14 April 2020

Monday, March 16th, 2020
See embedded summary of major Canadian ISPs' and WSPs' policies, UPDATED TO 6 April 2020 - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today (16 March 2020) welcomed recent announcements from major Canadian retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to suspend data overage fees for at least some time to assist Canadians with remaining connected during the present corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. "We commend the Canadian industry for leading on consumer access to the Internet during this crucial time," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. "Communications will be crucial in this fight against the virus and we encourage all telecommunications service providers to adopt similar policies, including payment flexibility and to consider adding other services, such as wireless, to their unlimited access policies," he added. PIAC has produced a summary of major Canadian ISPs policies, in their own words and with direct links to their responses.
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