Communications Technologies

Internet promise falling short

Auditor General Karen Hogan reported today that 1.4 million Canadian households in rural and remote areas do not have access to the level of Internet services promised by the federal government. “When services are of poor quality, unaffordable or unavailable, people are effectively excluded from participating fully and equally in the digital economy, accessing online education, banking, medical care and government services or working remotely,” she said. [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa eases back on remote work

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier’s office says some federal employees will be able to continue working remotely despite an earlier edict that all must be back in their official workplaces to days a week by month’s end. The policy easement affects mostly “high priority” information technology positions. [node:read-more:link]

Clock running out on TikTok

After the federal government, taking its cue from the European Union and the U.S. by banning the Chinese-owned TikTok social media app from on all government mobile devices. The roster of governments concerned about data protection and security vulnerability continues to grow with Nova Scotia the latest addition. [node:read-more:link]

Quebec also bans Tik-Tok

Taking his cue from the federal government, Quebec Cybersecurity & Digital Technology Minister Éric Caire today banned the installation and use of TikTok on government mobile devices. He said it is a “preventative measure” rather than a response to any indication the Chinese-owned social media app had been used to spy on government employees. [node:read-more:link]

Foreign broadcast content an issue

Ontario MP Michael Chong, a former cabinet minister and now the Opposition foreign affairs critic, wants the federal government to follow Britain’s lead and ban propagandist Chinese state broadcaster channels. Motivated by complaints against Mandarin and English channels in Canada, he points out that the government ordered the removal of a Russian channel last year for targetting Ukrainians. [node:read-more:link]

CanCon looms for streaming services

The Senate has amended government Bill C-11, a contentions plan to compel online streaming services to provide Canadian content accessible to Canadian subscribers or face penalties. Introduced in the House of Commons in April 2022, it now includes Senate changes the House must consider but Heritage Minister Pablo Rodrigues said February 2 that he is optimistic about final approval soon. [node:read-more:link]

Turkish firm wins NATO contracts

A Turkish engineering firm has won two contracts worth some €31.5 million to modernize intelligence infrastructure in the NATO Communications and Information Agency. STM says it is one of the largest software development projects assigned by the alliance to a Turkish company. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. a technology hegemony?

Reacting to reports that Huawei’s access to U.S. chips and other computer essentials could be further constrained, China accused it today of pursuing “technology hegemony.” A Commerce Department “entity” list has limited the global telecom giant’s access since 2019 and the Chinese foreign ministry said the latest development would be “over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power.” [node:read-more:link]

RCMP radio deal defended

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a parliamentary committee January 30 that while testing continues, there is no reason to believe national security is at risk from a RCMP standing order for radio-frequency filtering gear from Sinclair Technologies. The Ontario firm is a subsidiary of Norsat International in B.C. which is owned by Shenzen-based Hytera, banned in the U.S. because of its links to the Chinese military. [node:read-more:link]

BBC unplugs some foreign services

The British Broadcasting Corporation has taken its Arabic service off-air after 85 years as part of a cost-cutting exercise. It is part of an increased focus on digital services which also affects nine other 10 foreign-language services, including Chinese, Hindi and Persian. [node:read-more:link]

Home Depot shared consumer data

Federal Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne disclosed January 26 that Home Depot shared details from customers’ electronic receipts with Meta, the corporate parent of the Facebook social media platform. The information included encoded email addresses and purchase details which the social media used to target the chain’s customers with specific advertising. [node:read-more:link]

Telecom takeover clears penultimate hurdle

Before hearing arguments January 24, Federal Court of Appeal David Stratas dismissed the Competition Bureau's effort to overturn Competition Tribunal approval of Rogers Communications’ $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications. The takeover now needs only only cabinet approval to proceed. [node:read-more:link]

Telecom takeover plan in court

The Federal Court of Appeal today heard arguments on whether the proposed Rogers Communications $20-billion bid for Shaw Communications can proceed. The Competition Bureau opposes the deal on grounds that it will mean less competition and potentially increased costs to consumers who already pay some of the highest rates in the world, but that argument was rejected by the Competition Tribunal. [node:read-more:link]

Domestic space launches planned

The federal government hopes to have domestic commercial space launch facilities within the next three years. “For many years, Canadian satellites have launched from sites in other countries,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra explained January 20, adding that the government would begin developing the regulatory requirements, safety standards and licensing conditions. He also said the government is ready to approve private-sector launches in the interim on a case-by-case basis. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian streaming bill problematic?

A U.S. embassy spokesperson in Ottawa says there are concerns that a package of draft Broadcasting Act amendments currently before Parliament could discriminate against U.S. companies. Bill C-11, introduced in November 2021 and now awaiting third reading in the Senate, would require more Canadian content on streaming services and critics say it leaves too much room for government control over user-generated content and social-media. [node:read-more:link]


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