Tuesday, January 12th, 2021
Consumer, seniors and low-income groups today demanded the Canadian federal government create a $50 a month “Canadian Broadband Benefit” (CBB) during the remainder of the COVID-19 emergency. This payment would simply reduce internet bills by $50 a month for low-income Canadians, seniors on fixed incomes and for those Canadians qualifying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to reduced income. The Canadian Broadband Benefit would largely parallel the $USD 50 benefit recently approved in Congress for needy Americans in the United States.
The groups include ACORN Canada (ACORN), the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Together the groups represent over a million Canadians and advocate for many more who are similarly situated.
“There is just as much need for broadband during a pandemic in Canada as there is in the United States, but our Parliament, the CRTC and the Internet companies have done little to help,” said John Lawford, Executive Director of PIAC. Internet companies in Canada offered a free data overage no disconnections from March to June 2020 and then restored usual prices.
Thursday, December 24th, 2020
The CanCon is coming! The CanCon is coming! Or not. Today we discuss Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, phew!
Today's guest Monica Auer, Executive Director of Canada’s Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC) strives mightily to explain broadcasting regulation in Canada and how the federal government wants to change it. What could go wrong? Turns out a lot, if you hurry to do it, have a very specific goal in mind but ignore the rest, and just rip the heart out of it. Surgery or a roadmap? You decide.
Monday, November 30th, 2020
The Commission for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS) Annual Report 2019-20 of consumer complaints about communications services shows that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) "Internet Code" and "TV Service Provider Code" do not protect consumers and indeed are "dead letters" that mislead consumers into believing their Internet and TV use is protected when it is not, today said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).
Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Ottawa - 19 November 2020 - Canadian telecommunications companies are unacceptably failing to comply with resolutions and in some cases falsely claiming to resolve consumer complaints to Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), according to the 2019 Compliance Monitoring Report, says consumer advocacy group the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).
"We are shocked, but not surprised, at the companies' variety of non-compliance with a simple complaint resolution scheme for telecom customers," stated John Lawford, PIAC's Executive Director and General Counsel. "Consumers have told us for years that problems exist with the process."
Tuesday, November 17th, 2020
OTTAWA– (16 November 2020) Consumer privacy in Canada will be destroyed if Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020 [including Part 1 - Consumer Privacy Protection Act], is passed, said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (“PIAC”) today .
This new Bill is intended to replace and strengthen the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) and but conversely hurts consumer privacy by removing key consent requirements.
PIAC Executive Director, John Lawford stated: “We are aghast that the federal government feels it can weaken consumer privacy with a doublespeak Bill that removes a consumer’s right to protect his or her personal information that is used for any ‘business activity’ if it is 'de-identified' or used for what the government deems is a 'socially beneficial purpose'. This counterproductive Bill should be withdrawn and rewritten to protect consumers, not to favour big business,” he added.
Monday, November 2nd, 2020
In episode 3 of PIAC's podcast, "We Fight for That", we explore the world of "wholesale" regulation of Internet service and why it matters to consumers with Matt Stein, CNOC President and Chairman, and Distributel CEO. Wholesale regulation of Internet (and wireless, maybe?) is fundamental to competition in Canadian telecommunications services. We give a short lecture on the concept and then interview Matt Stein, CNOC President and Chairman, and Distributel CEO, to bring listeners up to date on recent disputes about wholesale rates for Internet service and how this arcane regulatory question affects the price consumers pay for Internet as well as the choice of providers and innovation in the industry. Matt reveals why consumers should have optimism that things are going in the right direction.
Friday, October 16th, 2020
OTTAWA– (16 October 2020) The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (“PIAC”) today responded to the government of Ontario’s Consultation to strengthen privacy protections in Ontario with PIAC’s recommendations for strengthening privacy protections in Ontario’s private sector, preferably by strengthening the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) and introducing provincial employment privacy legislation.
PIAC recommended bolstering privacy protections – whether in PIPEDA or a new Ontario statute – by making privacy a right, by widening the scope of privacy legislation and by greatly increasing compliance and enforcement powers of privacy authorities.
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.
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
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."