To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you as an individual who is very concerned about the potential impacts the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will have on Canada’s digital rights.
First, I want to highlight that rules governing how we use the Internet affect our freedom of expression, and should be created through open, transparent and democratic processes. I would like to see the Canadian government significantly update its trade negotiation practices with the aim of increasing accessibility for everyday Canadians, and accounting for advice and input from a broad range of stakeholders — including civil society and public interest groups.
With regards to specific policies that may be implemented as a result of this agreement, I am concerned about the following issues:
Copyright and Intellectual Property
The Intellectual Property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was deeply flawed, and I would encourage the Government of Canada to resist using this failed agreement as a starting point for any intellectual property rules in NAFTA. Under the TPP, Canada was prepared to accept copyright terms that would exceed our current standard by 20 years, costing Canadians millions, diminishing the public domain, and making it harder for artists and creators to make new works. Under NAFTA, Canada should oppose copyright term extensions. I am also opposed to any rules that would require Canadians to implement criminal penalties for Digital Rights Management infractions. These rules unfairly punish the deaf and blind, and are not consistent with Canada’s attempts to create a balanced copyright framework.
Furthering my concerns about intellectual property, I implore the government to ensure we protect both Canada’s fair dealing provisions, as well as our Notice and Notice copyright warning system. As one of the key levers that controls expression online, Canadians are deeply concerned about being able to shape their own copyright policy. As we head into a mandatory 2017 copyright review, we should not accept any rules under NAFTA that would restrict us from fully evaluating and updating these policies in the best interest of Canadians.
Canada has strong Net Neutrality regulations that protect free expression and create the conditions innovators need to succeed. Under NAFTA, we should not accept any policies that would weaken these safeguards or prevent us from enforcing these rules.
Privacy is of the utmost importance to Canadians, and it may be at threat under NAFTA.
A recent U.S. decision to eliminate a rule that requires Internet users to opt-in to programs that allow Internet Service Providers to sell personal subscriber information — like browsing history and location — to marketers, is very concerning to me. Canada should oppose any rules that would require them to match this policy under NAFTA.
Additionally, under the TPP, we were subject to prohibitions on rules that require certain types of data to be stored on Canadian servers. Policies like this have a huge impact on the privacy of Canadians, and we should ensure that we maintain the ability to make commonsense policies that allow us to require certain types of personal information — like health records and government data — to be stored in Canada.
In conclusion, I believe that preserving Canada’s balanced copyright system, resisting copyright term extensions, ensuring the privacy of all Canadians, defending Net Neutrality, and promoting an overall structure that does not impede Canada’s innovators should be top priorities for the Government of Canada in the renegotiation of NAFTA.
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