Tag Archives: ban

Canadian Govt Eyes Regulating Facebook, Other Tech

The Canadian government said it might start regulating social media and other tech companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter in Canada soon.

Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, mentioned that she thinks that Canadians are fed up with tech giants and want the government to do something about it.

Gould’s announcement is coincided with many other countries attempts at cracking down on social media.

Recently countries like UK and Australia passed a very stringent laws against social medias. Most of these laws cover how the social media should handle “online harms” and how expeditiously they suppose to take it down. In Australia for example if content is not removed fast enough, Facebook execs could face jail time.

Taylor Owen, an associate professor at McGill, in his interview with The Toronto Star, mentioned that government has to tread carefully as te government starts to introduce new restrictive laws.

“We better get the democratic governance right if we have any hope of pushing back against the autocratic model.”

Taylor Owen, an associate professor at McGill

Mark Zuckerberg is founder and chief executive of Facebook, agrees with the notion in his op-ed in Wall Street Journal.

I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.

From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive, Facebook

Spokesman for Google said no matter what they will continue working with the government to “protect Canada’s democratic institutions and election activities.”

Toronto Pacific Mall Flagged By US Government

Pacific Mall in Toronto area of Markham said that it will clean up its mall from counterfeit and pirated products. This comes after the US government declared the mall as the most notorious in the world for counterfeit and imitation goods.

In January, US government said that the Toronto area mall, compromising mostly of 450 stores catering to Mandarin speaking clientele in the area, is “one of the world’s notorious sources of counterfeit goods”.

US government’s report added that vendors at Pacific Mall “operate largely with impunity (as) requests for assistance from local law enforcement have reportedly gone unanswered.”

TravelCoffeeBook / Pixabay

Pacific Mall said it was  “deeply disturbed” by the recently learned report that “suggested that some vendors in the mall are selling imitation goods.”

“We are deeply disturbed and disappointed by this news. Management takes compliance with the laws and regulations that govern the sale of goods seriously. We will be implementing stringent internal measures to stop imitation goods from being traded or sold in the mall.

Pacific Mall is not only one of North America’s busiest retail centres but it also acts as a unique cultural hub for Toronto and GTA residents. Moreover, Pacific Mall has been a retail attraction for millions of local and international tourists. We hope to reaffirm the public’s confidence in Pacific Mall as a place where consumers and families can find a wide array of cultural opportunities and products at great value.”

angelic / Pixabay

This is not the first time mall has received attention from authorities. In 2009, the RCMP as well as local Police have done patrols in the shopping malls around Markham including Pacific Mall in order to eliminate the sales of counterfeit items.

US Judge to Canada – Hands Off Google

California Federal judge blocked the Canadian ruling that was trying to make Google delete search results from its system.

This is definitely a nice win for Google as it is telling other countries to stop interfering with US jurisdiction where Google servers are based.

jp26jp / Pixabay

This is the first time when US judge tells a foreign country to buzz off and weighted its opinion on who gets to police the internet. Not Canada apparently.

This debate is much larger in Europe where French court has “ordered” Google to remove searches when it comes to “right to be forgotten” privacy rules. European top courts are recently reviewing the legality of that decision.

Back to Canada – British Columbia provincial court sought to block Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc. from showing up in the results as it deemed that it was stealing trade secrets and wanted its website shut down. Google balked at the order, and took it to Supreme Court which sided with British Columbia order. Not giving up, Google filed a case in United States asking for US to consider Canadian decision unconstitutional and unenforceable in the U.S.

adampaulclay / Pixabay

Google said that First Amendment rights were violated and if enforced this can have disastrous effect.

US Judge Edward Davila said that Canada violated US federal law.

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the legal principle that one country shouldn’t be able to decide what information people in other countries can access online. Undermining this core principle inevitably leads to a world where internet users are subject to the most restrictive content limitations from every country.”” Google senior product counsel David Price said Friday.

Even though the ruling is now not enforcable in the US, it is still enforceable in Canada.

It will be interesting to see over the next 10-20 years, how some countries decide that they want to police the internet and try to apply the ruling around the world.

Google is still fighting 2015 order by France to apply the privacy law (right to be forgotten) not just in France or European Union but around the world.

Vancouver To Target AirBnb, $1k Fine if Unlicensed

To combat shortage of rentals in the city, Vancouver passed a by law limiting short term rentals.

This ban does not affect individuals renting out their own place / principal residence, but affects businesses or individuals who own or rent our more than one property.

jarmoluk / Pixabay

Vancouver’s real estate prices have been through the roof, and is now known as most un-affordable place to live in the world when it comes to purchasing real estate. On top of that, long term rental have extremely low vacancy as most of them are listed as short term.

Vancouver City Officials hope this by-law will free up some long term rental vacancy but they had no studies done / no hard evidence that this will fix the problem.

AirBnb says that this is unaffair and that it might be taking the city to court.

“We really think it’s going too far,”

– Ms. Dagg, the public policy manager for Airbnb in Canada, said from Toronto

Vancouver by law will require $49 annual registration fee and the owner to be principal resident to be able to rent out his or her own place. The fine for non compliance? A steep $1,000 penalty.

Vancouver said that they will police AirBnb website to find and fine illegal listings.

Viateur / Pixabay

Vancouver house prices soared in the last 10 or so years and average house price is now over $1 million dollars.

Ms. Dagg is pushing Airbnb in British Columbia to collect lodging tax like they do right now in Quebec, where 3.5% from each rental is collected and can be used by the government as they please. Maybe building more subsidized / public housing with that money instead of banning it outright?

Quebec to Ban Women With Face Veils And How It Will Affect Tech

Canadian Province of Quebec is the first in North America to go ahead with banning veils on public transit and government institutions. This is the newly introduced Bill 62 that will prevent you from covering your face in spaces that are controlled by the government.

Quebec is the first place in North America where it will now be prohibited to wear the niqab or burka if you want to receive public services.

Hans / Pixabay

The interesting part was that the bill was passed by 66 vs 51 in favor not because the other parties objected but because they wanted it to be even stronger – wanted to ban kippahs and turbans as well.

Toronto Star recently interviewed Solange Lefebvre, a professor at Universite de Montreal who researches culture and religion in society, and said that Quebec is mainly influenced by French intellectuals when it comes to secularism and religious neutrality.

“It’s very clear why they did this. It’s the French influence. Quebec is a territory where the majority of people are francophone and who are historically Catholic and this combination with the intellectual ideas in France make it so France has a (strong) influence in Quebec.”

– Solange Lefebvre, a professor at Universite de Montreal

So if Quebec is similar to France why should we implement all their shortcomings? Do we need to copy any elements of France’s failed relations between Muslims and the non-Muslim majority? The parts of France where communities rarely mingle and Muslim community is deemed as outcast? The very low rate of integration?

Some Twitter users were not happy about this newly introduced law:

Yet some others supported it:

Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, released the following statement on Twitter after Quebec passed the law.

It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear.

– Justin Trudeau

Ontario Liberal Government has also criticized Quebec for passing it. They said that Quebec’s newly created bill is against Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and will most certainly be challenged in court. They said similar bill will not be considered in Ontario as government must respect person’s right to express themselves (including cloth) and their religion as they wish.

You are wondering why we at PlanetWeb care about this and what this has to do with tech.

geralt / Pixabay

The thing is there are a lot of Muslim women and their kids who chose to wear veil, who want to go to school to study, who want to go to library to educate themselves, whose parents do not have cars and need to take a bus to the library.

When this bill will come into effect these young women will not be able to get proper education and will have decide whether to give up their religion or go to university or library.

Even to go get a medical check-up or go to parent-teacher interview – they will have to part with their religion to do those things we take for granted.

Brendan Myers, Cegep Prof, from Gatineau said that he will not abide the law and allow niqab and burka in his classroms.

This will also affect Quebec on the world stage as it will get a bad reputation for not respecting Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms protect freedom of religion and expression. This is because this law is essentially is preventing an entire class of people from one religion from working as public servants or receiving public services is a violation of those rights.

How will multinational companies can continue investing in place where entire class of people from one religion can not even get to work because they are not allowed to take a bus?

North Carolina passed a transgender bathroom law which required that people at a government-run facility must use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate. A lot of people protested against and deemed it racist. Companies like Facebook and Google opposed the bill and said that they will pull out of that state if the bill is not repealed.

It will be interesting to see if any Quebec’s private institution will voice their opinions in regards to this newly created bill.

It is also interesting to note that Forum poll last year found 28 percent of Canadians viewed Muslims unfavourably, that attitude was much more prevalent in Quebecers polled, at 48 percent. Is Islamophobia hiding behind notion of secularism in Quebec?

Quebec, of course, is very different from the rest of Canada for many different reasons. Anti-Muslim sentiment shouldn’t be one of them. To be seen.

 

Uber is Leaving Quebec, Say It ain’t So

Update: Uber has backtracked on its “shut down operations in Quebec” threat. Company said it will continue to negotiate with the government.

Government backtracked a bit as well saying that even though they will not change training requirements which now require 35 hours of training vs 20, it will allow new drivers to have eight weeks to do their background checks and drivers who are already in a system will have two years to update it.

This is not the first time Uber threatens to leave, it left Austin , Texas few years ago due to unfavorable regulations, and the city and state backtracked by overruling with a new state law.


According to Radio Canada, Uber intends to leave Quebec within the next few weeks.

Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, director general of Uber Quebec, said provincial regulations are killing the company, and making it inoperable in that province. He was mainly referring to 35 hours mandatory training Uber drivers have to do in Quebec.

Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada forcing this kind of training on drivers in Canada. 5,000 Uber drivers are about to lose their jobs.

The requirement of 35 hour mandatory training legislated by Province of Quebec is the same as their requirement for their taxi drivers.

Guillemette said that it does not make sense for Uber drivers to do 35 hour driving training as most of them do it as part time job to supplement their income. He compared it Airbnb hosts – imagine he said – if government asked for 35 hours from Airbnb hosts for training – noone would rent their places out anymore.

Quebec Transportation Moving Backwards

To tighten the knot, Quebec’s Transport Minister Laurent Lessard, said he can let Uber continuing operating but they would need to:

  • do 35 hours of training instead of 20 hours required now (75% increase in training hours)
  • do background checks by police and not private companies (meaning you have to go physically to police station instead of doing it online as you can with private)
  • .. and make sure government agents can inspect Uber cars every 12 months

Taxi Drivers Rejoice; Taxi Union Wins

Guy Chevrette, spokesperson for the Quebec taxi coalition, said finally government showing support for the taxi industry in that province. He said he is expecting government to help taxi industry to modernize.

Chevrette said that Uber made illegal profits in Quebec and brought the taxi permit license prices by more than 50%.

Last year, taxi drivers blocked airports and main roads, to show their anger at Uber. They have also randomly stopped Uber cars and physically abused the drivers.

Quebec – the Only Canadian Province without an Uber

A lot of Montrealers and Uber drivers said they would be sad to see Uber leave the province. Many said it improved their lives and gave them options when moving around the city.

Some Facebook said that taxi industry was outdated, taxis were dirty, taxi driver not courteous, taxis taking people around the block and double charging, and credit card machines never working.

This is sad to see – when just recently City of Toronto announced that Lyft, another major car ride company, entering that city at the end of the year.

Bye Bye I Do not Care

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre who does not shy away from public eyes met reporters at City Hall after Uber’s announcement and expressed his anger:

Bye bye, I don’t care. Don’t threaten me. If you want to threaten me, I’ve got some Irish blood. If those people are saying, ‘well, I’m against that kind of training, and by Oct. 14, we’ll leave. Well, I’m sorry, tough luck. I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to lose any sleep.

Quebec’s Transport Minister Laurent Lessard confirmed his stance in Quebec City after Uber’s annoucement:

We are not in negotiation mode. Uber is a useful service, but Quebec has no intention of modifying its criteria.

Bad Signal to Startups in Quebec

Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, just released this (roughly translated from French) announcement blaming Quebec’s Transportation Minister for not finding a compromise:

This decision, if it were to be confirmed, will have to be analyzed as a finding of failure. While Montreal is positioning itself as a welcoming ground for innovative companies, the inability to modernize the regulatory framework to allow Uber to operate in Quebec is giving a very bad signal to start-ups here and to investors who provide venture capital. The government’s decision to authorize pilot projects was a promising avenue to create a competitive and innovative environment for the benefit of users. It appears that the Department of Transport is struggling to respond quickly and flexibly to the demands of new players. Teo would have to wait several months before being granted access to more licenses. Uber is having difficulty getting the space necessary to continue operating in Quebec. The taxi community had begun to work on promising strategies in the work of the Committee on Modernization of the Taxi Industry. That is why we were surprised that the minister is imposing new rules on the pilot project.

We must accept that technological change is causing profound transformations in the vast majority of sectors of our economy. We are all mobilized behind the development of our artificial intelligence ecosystem and we are in the race to get the second headquarters of Amazon, the company that causes the most upheavals in the retail trade. If we are not agile and flexible, both in the regulatory framework and in business models, we risk falling behind and continuing to face front-end innovations elsewhere.

Uber Explains Why They are Being Forced Out

Update: New Super Nintendo Edition Console Is No Longer Banned in Quebec

Update: Few weeks ago, when we wrote the story, it was clear that due to language requirements new super Nintendo was not allowed to be sold  in Quebec because it was not translated into Quebec’s version of French language.

However just recently, ToysRUs Canada has twitted that restriction has been lifed and now you can buy it in Quebec after all:

This is quite interesting, because under recently introduced law new super Nintendo should not pass muster as it breaks the law under the provincial legislation (see below).

You have to wonder what happened? Did French Language Authority in Quebec have authorized the usage and made a one time exception for Nintendo, or were the rules changed in that province for uni-lingual games? Or maybe Nintendo complied and translated all games into Quebec specific French? No one knows for sure.

Either way it is great story that it ended this way and now users in Quebec can be on par with Canada and the US and order their loved console even though it will be a max of one console per person and no preorders in Quebec.

Original story:

If you are living in the province of Quebec, you might be surprised that you will not be able fulfill your nostalgia with an Old New Super Nintendo NES edition, featuring a lot of hit games from the 1990s.

This is due to Quebec recently introduced law in 2009 to protect French language requiring all toys / electronics to have Quebec French translation.

You can familiarize yourself with the law if you speak French here but basically it says that all games must be translated into Quebec French (French from France will not do) if it is also available in French in other parts of the world: https://www.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/francisation/consommateurs/secteur/jeux_video/details_entente.pdf

Nintendo has decided not to bother with translation into Quebec French and 7 million potential customers in Quebec. Doing so would take ages to translate hundreds of old games from the 90s into this specific French used in Quebec.

Some users lashed out at Nintendo for lack of translation. While some others defended Nintendo and lashed out at Quebec instead as well as that province’s “oppressive regime”:

NES Nintendo will be released to the world on September 29th, 2017 and is currently unavailable for purchase in Quebec. If you still want to buy it – you might need to bootleg it from neighboring Ontario  or the US.

Nintendo also stays clear of Quebec when it does its contests in America – where it excludes Quebec residents from entering its sweepstakes:

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There’s still time to enter the #MarioSonicRio2016 Family & Friends Olympic Games Contest. Share your at-home recreation of the Olympic Games competition along with #MarioSonicRio2016 and #NintendoContest for a chance to win an awesome prize pack. Click the link in our bio for the official rules and contest details. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of the US (incl. DC) and Canada (excl. Quebec), 18 years or older. Promotion begins 9:00 AM PT on 6/24/16 and ends 11:59 PM PT on 7/22/14. To enter, upload photo to Instagram using hashtags stated in Official Rules. Four winners will each receive: 1 Mario amiibo figure; 1 Sonic amiibo figure; 1 Wii U video game system; 2 Nintendo 3DS XL video game systems; 1 Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games video game for the Wii U system; and 1 Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games video game for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. ARV of each prize package: $825.93. For Official Rules, visit http://Ninten.do/6189BQgjB. Sponsor: Nintendo of America Inc. © 2016 Nintendo. All rights reserved.

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