Michael Geist
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Entries by Michael Geist

The Battle Over The Future Of Broadband In Canada

(4) Comments | Posted January 13, 2016 | 3:26 PM

Cities across the country have long emphasized the importance to the local economy of creating innovation hubs. There are different roads toward that goal, however, as shown by competing submissions from the mayors of Toronto and Calgary in a high-stakes battle over the future of broadband Internet services. Toronto mayor...

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Liberal Copyright Reform May Nix Canadian Access To U.S. Netflix

(10) Comments | Posted December 9, 2015 | 10:35 AM

The Trudeau government has thus far said very little about its plans for future digital and copyright policy reform. There were few references in its election platform and the ministerial mandate letters that identify immediate policy priorities did not speak to the issue.

My weekly technology law column (

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How the TPP Puts Canadian Privacy at Risk

(11) Comments | Posted October 14, 2015 | 5:53 PM

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that covers nearly 40 per cent of world GDP, wrapped up years of negotiation earlier this month. The TPP immediately emerged as an election issue, with the Conservatives trumpeting the deal as a source of future economic growth, the Liberals adopting...

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Why We Need to Talk About Copyright Extension and the TTP

(6) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 9:12 AM

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations have attracted considerable attention in Canada in recent weeks as the political consequences of dismantling agricultural protections loom large with a national elections scheduled for the fall. Much of the case for caving on those issues focuses on concerns that failing to join the TPP...

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Getting OMNI'd: Why Many Canadian TV Channels May Be Headed for the Chopping Block

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2015 | 11:46 AM

Rogers Media's recent decision to slash 110 jobs and end all newscasts at OMNI, its multicultural channel, has sparked outrage among many ethnic communities, who have lamented the cancellation of local news programs in Italian, Punjabi, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Supporters argue that OMNI programming is essential to those...

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Sorry Bell, Accessing U.S. Netflix is Not Theft

(54) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 12:27 PM

Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke sparked an uproar last week when she told a telecom conference that Canadians who use virtual private networks (VPNs) to access the U.S. version of Netflix are stealing. Turcke is not the first Canadian broadcast executive to raise the issue - her...

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What to Consider if You Receive a Copyright Infringement Notice

(1) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 12:31 PM

For the past few months, I've received daily emails from people who have been sent a copyright infringement notification as part of Canada's notice-and-notice system. Most of the notifications come from CEG-TEK, a U.S.-based anti-piracy firm. Canadian Internet providers are now required by law to forward these notifications and CEG...

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Vertically Integrated TV Giants Are the CRTC's Hidden Target

(5) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 5:57 PM

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last week announced much-anticipated plans to require cable and satellite companies to offer consumers basic television packages for an affordable $25 per month alongside the option of picking the television channels they want without requiring them to purchase expensive bundles.

Despite some hand-wringing that...

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Harper's Anti-Terror Bill Puts Every Canadian in Danger

(61) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 1:42 PM

As witnesses line up to warn about the dangers associated with Bill C-51, Canada's anti-terrorism bill, it's increasingly clear that the proposed legislation is an unprecedented undermining of Canadian privacy protection.

Much of the focus on the bill has related to oversight: the government implausibly claims that it increases oversight...

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Raising the Broadcast White Flag: What Lies Behind Bell's Radical Plan to Raise TV Fees, Block Content, Violate Net Neutrality and Fight Netflix

(17) Comments | Posted March 10, 2015 | 11:51 AM

Kevin Crull, Bell Media's President delivered a much-anticipated keynote speech at the Prime Time in Ottawa conference on Friday. Titled "The New Reality: Broadcasting in Canada", Crull's claim was that the new reality for broadcasting in Canada is unsustainable and requires massive regulatory change. While Crull argued that...

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Sun News Network's Demise May Be A Preview Of Things To Come

(47) Comments | Posted February 24, 2015 | 12:04 PM

The abrupt end of the Sun News Network -- its owners pulled the plug on the all-news channel without warning earlier this month -- sparked considerable commentary with many lamenting the lost jobs, others examining the quality of the content, and some celebrating the end of a service that was...

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'Total Information Awareness': The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Bill C-51

(2) Comments | Posted February 20, 2015 | 1:10 PM

The House of Commons debate over Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism bill, began this week with strong opposition from the NDP, disappointing support from the Liberals, and an effort to politicize seemingly any criticism or analysis from the Conservative government. With the government already serving...

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Why James Moore Should Take Some Blame For The 'Threatening Letters' Fiasco

(2) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 3:33 PM

Last week I posted on how Rightscorp, a U.S.-based anti-piracy company, was using Canada's new copyright notice-and-notice system to require Internet providers to send threats and misstatements of Canadian law in an effort to extract payments based on unproven infringement allegations. Many Canadians may be frightened into a...

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Canadian Telcos Want to Build Surveillance-Ready Networks

(4) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 12:34 PM

This post originally appeared in the Toronto Star.

After years of failed bills, public debate, and considerable controversy, lawful access legislation received royal assent last week. Public Safety Minister Peter MacKay's Bill C-13 lumped together measures designed to combat cyberbullying with a series of new warrants to enhance...

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Why Does the Government Need a Copyright Exception for Political Ads?

(8) Comments | Posted October 9, 2014 | 1:24 PM

Reports from CTV and the Globe and Mail indicate that the government is planning to introduce a new copyright exception for political advertising. The reports suggest that the exception would permit the use of news content in political advertising without authorization provided that it meets three...

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Not Just Netflix: Google Challenges the CRTC's Power to Regulate Online Video

(0) Comments | Posted September 24, 2014 | 2:39 PM

The Netflix-CRTC battle has generated considerable attention, but Netflix is not alone in contesting the CRTC's authority to regulate Internet video services. As I suggested in a post yesterday, Google has adopted a similar position, refusing to provide the Commission with all of the information it was seeking....

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Does the CRTC Have the Legal Authority to Challenge Netflix?

(16) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 12:38 PM

Last week's very public fight between the CRTC and Netflix escalated on Monday as Netflix refused to comply with Commission's order to supply certain confidential information including subscriber numbers and expenditures on Canadian children's content. While the disclosure concerns revolve around the confidentiality of the data, the far bigger issue...

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The CRTC's Future of TV Hearing: "There is No Such Thing as Too Much Choice"

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 12:16 PM

Rogers Communications unveiled its plan for streaming more than 1,000 National Hockey League games on the Internet last week. Having invested billions of dollars to obtain the Canadian broadcast and Internet rights to NHL hockey, the cable giant pointed to the future of broadcast by embracing consumer demand for making...

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Why Has Bell Remained Silent on Its Subscriber Information Disclosure Practices?

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 5:13 PM

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada's Spencer decision, several leading Canadian ISPs have publicly announced that they have changed their practices on the disclosure of subscriber information (including basic subscriber information such as name and address) to law enforcement. For example, Rogers announced...

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Blown Chances, Bogus Claims and Blatant Hypocrisy: Why Yesterday Was a Disastrous Day for Canadian Privacy

(4) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 5:18 PM

Bills C-13 and S-4, the two major privacy bills currently working their way through the legislative process, both reached clause-by-clause review yesterday, typically the best chance for amendment. With Daniel Therrien, the new privacy commissioner, appearing before the C-13 committee and the sense that the government was

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