CIPPIC pushes for balance in copyright law reform, and the Privacy Commissioner responds

As Parliament considers legislated protection of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies (designed to detect and stop copying of digital works), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has indicated her intent to "initiate a dialogue" with the departments of Heritage Canada and Industry Canada "to ensure that privacy risks" associated with any copyright legislation "are addressed." Some of the Commissioner's provincial counterparts have signaled their support of her initiative. The Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia and the Ombudsman of New Brunswick have both been in touch with CIPPIC to affirm their awareness of the issue and to offer their support to the federal Privacy Commissioner. Cippic had earlier invited Canada's privacy Commissioners to involve themselves in the copyright reviews process. In letters to the federal Privacy Commissioner (dated November 4, 2004) and provincial privacy commissioners (dated November 10, 2004), CIPPIC pointed out that the continuous information collection and surveillance functions of DRM can provide owners with highly detailed and previously unavailable information about the reading, listening and viewing habits of end users. We also highlighted various ways in which certain uses of these technologies may be violating federal privacy legislation. This unprecedented threat to consumer privacy deserves immediate attention, before it becomes further entrenched.

Together with PIAC, CIPPIC sent a letter dated October 26th to members of the newly constituted House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage urging them to consider important public interest implications of proposed copyright law reforms, and to take a more balanced approach than that reflected in the previous Committee's interim report.