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Michael Geist

Law professor, columnist, author

Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. He has obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School. Dr. Geist is an internationally syndicated columnist on technology law issues with his regular column appearing in the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen. Dr. Geist is the editor of From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda (2010) and In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law (2005), both published by Irwin Law, the editor of several monthly technology law publications, and the author of a popular blog on Internet and intellectual property law issues.

Dr. Geist serves on many boards, including the CANARIE Board of Directors, the Canadian Legal Information Institute Board of Directors, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Expert Advisory Board, the Electronic Frontier Foundation Advisory Board, and on the Information Program Sub-Board of the Open Society Institute. He has received numerous awards for his work including the Kroeger Award for Policy Leadership and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award in 2010, the Les Fowlie Award for Intellectual Freedom from the Ontario Library Association in 2009, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 2008, Canarie’s IWAY Public Leadership Award for his contribution to the development of the Internet in Canada and he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2003. In 2010, Managing Intellectual Property named him on the 50 most influential people on intellectual property in the world.

Click here to view Dr. Geist's complete biography.

Does the CRTC Have the Legal Authority to Challenge Netflix?

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 is now whether the CRTC has the legal authority to order it to do anything at all.
09/23/2014 12:39 EDT

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

The CRTC hearing is ultimately about shifting away from that model by providing consumers with more choice. That change should force broadcasters to improve their products and broadcast distributors to offer competitively priced services. As the Rogers approach to streaming hockey demonstrates, if they fail to do so, consumers now have other options.
09/08/2014 12:16 EDT

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

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. Instead, the day was perhaps the most disastrous in recent memory for Canadian privacy, with blown chances for reform, embarrassingly bogus claims from the government in defending its bills, and blatant hypocrisy from government MPs who sought to discredit the same privacy commissioner they were praising only a few days ago.
06/11/2014 05:18 EDT

From Toews to Todd: The Unravelling of the Government's Online Privacy Laws

As criticism of Bill C-13 mounts, the government's sales strategy for its latest lawful access bill is starting to unravel. The turning point on Bill C-13 came ten days ago when they appeared before the Justice Committee studying the bill. Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda, led off and courageously insisted that the government stop using her child's name to undermine privacy. Ms. Todd's comments effectively derailed the government's sales strategy for Bill C-13, making it clear that the failure to appropriately protect our privacy victimizes the same people the bill purports to protect.
05/26/2014 12:39 EDT

Digital Canada 150: The Digital Strategy Without a Strategy

Despite its successes, Digital Canada 150 ultimately suffers from some notable omissions. For a strategy document, it is curiously lacking in actual strategy. The government updates Canadians on what it has done and provides some insight into what it plans to do, but there are few new strategies articulated.
04/09/2014 05:09 EDT

No More Secrets: Why CSEC and CSIS Should Be Investigated

Late last year, Justice Richard Mosley, a federal court judge, issued a stinging rebuke to Canada's intelligence agencies (CSEC and CSIS) and the Justice Department, ruling that they misled the court when they applied for warrants to permit the interception of electronic communications. The failure of Canada's intelligence agencies to meet their legal obligations of full and frank disclosure raises serious questions about the adequacy of oversight over Canada's surveillance activities. In response, the government should commission an independent review to examine current oversight mechanisms, identify shortcomings and recommend potential reforms.
01/08/2014 12:09 EST

The Cyberbullying Bill Is A Virtual Big Brother in Disguise

Wednesday, Peter MacKay, the new Justice Minister, unveiled Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The similarly-named bill is now marketed as an effort to crack-down cyber-bullying, yet the vast majority of the bill simply brings back many (though not all) lawful access provisions. As this post suggests, some of the provisions raise some serious concerns. Yet the government is signalling that it would prefer to avoid such debates, wrapping up the provisions in the cyber-bullying flag and backtracking on a commitment made earlier this year to not bring forward Criminal Code amendments that were contained in Bill C-30.
11/21/2013 12:50 EST

The Great Canadian Personal Data Grab

The personal data grab from two of Canada's best-known companies is part of a disturbing privacy trend involving a seemingly insatiable desire for customer information. These demands stretch Canadian privacy law to its limits and run the risk of placing user data at risk for security breaches.
10/16/2013 05:45 EDT

Could an ISP Code of Conduct Curb Cybercrime in Canada?

With the cost of cybercrime in Canada on the rise my weekly technology law column reports that the Canadian government is quietly working behind-the-scenes to create a new Internet service provider code of conduct. If approved, the code would be technically be voluntary for Canadian ISPs, but the active involvement of government officials suggests that most large providers would feel pressured to participate.
10/09/2013 11:07 EDT

What Does Canadian Telecom Know About You?

Interestingly, the battle over the potential entry of Verizon into Canada may have opened the door to greater public scrutiny of the privacy practices of all telecom carriers. The debate unexpectedly features a privacy and surveillance dimension, with the incumbents and their unions raising fears about the link between Verizon and U.S. surveillance.
08/27/2013 12:13 EDT

Telus Attacks: The Battle To Keep Verizon Out of Canada

Thursday, Telus CEO Darren Entwistle was campaigning at the Globe and Mail and National Post, warning of a "bloodbath" if the government sticks with its commitment to allow for a set-aside of spectrum for new entrants such as Verizon. While the companies frame their arguments around level playing fields, the real goal is simply to keep competition out of the country.
07/19/2013 05:00 EDT

Is the Government About to Can Its Own Anti-Spam Law?

In May 2010, then-Industry Minister Tony Clement introduced anti-spam legislation that he admitted was long overdue. Clement acknowledged that "Canada is seen as a haven for spammers because of the gaps in our current legislation...a place where spammers can reside and inflict their damage around the world." Yet last week, government officials disclosed that the best-case scenario for the law is that final regulations are released late this summer with the implementation of the law delayed until the fall of 2014.
06/25/2013 12:24 EDT
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How Big Telecom Lost the Wireless War

The events of this week -- the introduction of a CRTC consumer wireless code and the Industry Canada decision to uphold its set-aside spectrum policy by killing the Telus -- Mobilicity deal -- point to the fact that this debate is now over in the minds of the government. Government telecom policy in 2006 was focused on deregulation and a hands-off, industry-led approach. Those days are long gone as the government has now adopted a consumer-focused, populist approach premised on the view that a public fight with the telecom companies is a political winner.
06/05/2013 04:46 EDT

The CRTC Hangs Up on Three Year Contracts

The CRTC released its much-anticipated consumer wireless code this morning. The headline-grabbing change is that the Commission has effectively brought three-year contracts to an end. The issue of contract length was the top issue raised by consumers, who argued that Canadian wireless contracts were longer than most other countries and that they represented a significant barrier to effective competition.
06/03/2013 12:12 EDT

Canada Has an Internet Problem

At least part of the problem lies in Canada's lack of a cohesive, forward-looking digital economy strategy. This failure is plainly hurting all aspects of the digital economy. For an SME, the effects of the Canadian digital economy strategy failure -- what I've often termed Canada's Penske File -- can be found everywhere.
05/29/2013 12:22 EDT
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The Digital Locks You Should Fear

The recommendations over a new report that recommends using spyware and ransom-ware to combat online infringement are shocking. They represent next-generation digital locks that could lock down computers and even "retrieve" files from personal computers.
05/28/2013 12:20 EDT
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Canada's Copyright Board Is Badly Broken

The litany of complaints about the Copyright Board of Canada has mounted in recent years: The public rarely participates in its activities due to high costs, it moves painfully slowly, and its rules encourage copyright collectives and users to establish extreme positions that make market-driven settlements more difficult.
05/21/2013 12:31 EDT