ICT Consortium: Regulatory Changes to Enhance the Digital Economy in Canada
August 16, 2010

In response to Industry Canada’s request for suggestions of regulatory changes that could enhance the Digital Economy in Canada, The ICT Consortium recommends the following:

“Open” should become a fundamental principle of all government policy related to infrastructure for the digital economy.  The burden of proof should always be upon why access, participation, investment, data flow, technology export, movement of labour, standards should be in any way closed or restricted. 

Specifically:

  • The Canadian telecommunications market should be open to foreign investment

  • Open and non-restrictive access to additional spectrum should be brought to market as soon as possible to allow Canadian carriers to meet explosive demand for wireless broadband.

  • Open competitive access to spectrum should not be hobbled by over taxation and spectrum fees.  The government should ensure that its revenue generating activity in taxation and fees does not so limit private investment in the infrastructure that will drive the digital economy.

  • The government should ensure that vertical integration between creation and distribution does not mitigate open access to content and distribution mechanisms for those who do only one or the other i.e. create or distribute

  • Open access to broadband should not be precluded by income.  Programs should be in place to assist low income Canadians to access broadband.

  • Open movement of data across international boundaries should be unrestricted without compromising the duties of the holders of that data to protect personal information.

  • The Digital Economy cannot flourish without interoperability.  Interoperability is dependent on open standards for equipment, software, and middleware.  Those open standards must be international.  The government should ensure and support Canadian involvement international open standards development.  Further the government should ensure that its own procurement policies privilege solutions that are based on open standards.

  • Some restrictions on open movement of technology such as cryptography may be appropriate, but the government must ensure that Canadian export controls are no more stringent than those in Wassenaar competitor countries and that Canadian interpretations of international regulations are no more zealous than those of competitor countries.

  • Open movement of labour in high demand professions for internationally active companies – Canadian and foreign controlled is critical.  Recent announcements (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/special-tech.asp) of the end of Facilitated Entry for in demand professionals is a retrograde step.  Moves in this direction are likely to result in work moving to the in-demand professionals out of Canada.

In addition to these regulatory points, the ICT Consortium would like to reiterate its call for a review of the SR&ED program and its willingness to participate in that review.

Contact: CATA CEO, John Reid at email jreid@cata.ca