Senate Study of C-11

The Senate Standing Committee Banking, Trade and Commerce did a study of Bill C-11 on Thursday June 21'st (1 meeting), June 22 (8:00 and 13:00 meetings), and June 26 (9:00, 13:00 and 19:00 meetings).  First meeting had the two Ministers and 3 bureaucrats from the departments of Industry and Heritage, and the 3 bureaucrats (plus one more) were recalled for questions on the last meeting.  There were 44 other witnesses called.

While others were happy as their views were heard, I was quite disappointed.  While I didn't listen to all the testimony yet, I did listen from time to time and looked at the witness list.  The list would have been very familiar from the witnesses in 1997 or in 1988 for those major copyright amendments.

While by far the most controversial aspect of Bill C-11 was the non-copyright technological protection measures (TPMs) aspects, this was the focus of a minority of witnesses.  While understanding the impact of TPMs requires technical experience most people do not have, I was not aware of any technical witnesses called.  If someone else is aware of such witnesses, please let me know.  Ideal would be if someone said what I would have liked to say.

What a lack of technical witnesses meant is that even when TPMs were discussed, they were discussed in the Harry Potter version, and not in the science-based version where all 4 stakeholder groups (copyright holders, users, software authors and hardware owners) were understood and acknowledged.

I had previously suggested I would see this bill all the way through, including sitting in on the Senate committee as I did with the two parliamentary committees.   Unfortunately the committee meetings conflicted with other scheduled things, so was only able to look in from time to time.

What I did see reminds me that the technical community has a lot of work in front of us.  While Bill C-11 is only a few procedural steps from becoming law, this is not the end of the story but the beginning.   We need to take notice of the "debate" around C-11 "technological" measures and note that few in the debate had the necessary technology background to differentiate science from science fiction.  While these laws are being passed based on fiction, they will have considerable and largely unintended real-world impacts.   Those who have the literacy have a duty to spread this to others.  It is up to us to reverse the trends we are seeing where considerable harm to technology owners rights and the economy as a whole being committed by politicians who thus far lack the required knowledge to realize what they are doing.