January 1, 2012
Technology law and policy is notoriously unpredictable but 2012 promises to be a busy year. My best guess for the coming months:
January. The Supreme Court of Canada holds a hearing on whether Internet service providers can be treated as broadcasters under the Broadcasting Act. The case, which arises from a CRTC reference to the courts on the issue, represents the last possibility for an ISP levy similar to the one paid by broadcasters under the current rules.
February. Industry Minister Christian Paradis unveils proposed spectrum auction rules along with changes to Canadian restrictions on foreign ownership of telecom companies. After the earlier trial balloon of opening up the market to companies with less than 10 per cent market share generated a tepid response, the government jumps in with both feet by announcing plans to remove foreign investment limits for telecom companies starting in 2013 in conjunction with the next spectrum auction.
March. Canada and the European Union reach a preliminary agreement on a major new trade agreement. While much of the attention is directed toward the implications for the agricultural sector, Canada quietly caves on patent issues that may add billions to pharmaceutical costs. Meanwhile, Canada formalizes its open government commitment at a global meeting in Brazil.