A recent government survey has shown that electronic service delivery is no longer the priority that it once was. The survey showed subtle shifts in the way the government sees the role of information technology, with only 25% of respondents citing electronic services as a pressing policy issue.
A Québec court has ruled that a company violated the Charter of the French Language by failing to provide a French version of its website. In addition, the federal government has issued regulations to complete the definition of 'secure electronic signature' given in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The federal government is planning major changes in the way it serves Canadian citizens. Ottawa is considering consolidating its services under the banner of Services Canada, the tentative name for a super-agency that has been two years in the making. It would provide an online one-stop shop for Canadian citizens in need of various services
Export Development Canada and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service have joined forces to expand the tools available to Canadian exporters on the online Virtual Trade Commissioner service. The Newfoundland Registry of Deeds and Companies has also taken an important step towards modernizing its operations with the launch of new online electronic services.
The Canadian privacy commissioner has taken a strict approach to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act in a case involving unsolicited commercial email. The commissioner found that business email addresses can be classed as personal information and are therefore subject to the act's protection.
The government of British Columbia has launched the OneStop Business Registry, an improved e-government service designed to meet modern business needs. The registry provides a portal through which people starting, moving or expanding a business can contact a wide range of public agencies.
In April 2004 online bidding became available for provincial government road and bridge construction opportunities, as part of the government's 'new era' commitment to restore British Columbia as a world leader in e-government.
The Supreme Court of Canada recently heard what may become a seminal copyright case with broad implications regarding responsibility for internet-based activities in Canada. The case centred on whether internet service providers in Canada and abroad should pay tariffs for Canadian music that is downloaded by consumers.
The Internet Sales Contract Regulations recently took effect in Nova Scotia under the provincial Consumer Protection Act. These regulations are intended to boost confidence in online activities by requiring online merchants to provide specific information to buyers before and at the time of sale.
Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government has introduced plans for what it calls 'e-government', improving and expanding online services for Quebecers. According to Henri-Francois Gautrin, parliamentary assistant to Charest, the e-government project is meant to be a rapid-delivery method for government services.
The Canadian Judicial Council has launched a national consultation to examine issues arising from electronic access to court records. The discussion paper notes that no court in Canada currently provides electronic access to court records, although such a process is inevitable. However, it suggests that access policies should be established before electronic access is allowed.
Ontario has joined Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia in enacting specific legislation that will impose requirements on the structuring of certain internet sales transactions with consumers. Its Consumer Protection Act 2002 will come into force on a date to be set by proclamation.
The Canadian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (CDRP) embodies significant and unique policy choices. It will be interesting to observe the degree to which differences between the CDRP and other policies will be manifested in the reasoning and outcomes of future disputes.
The Competition Bureau has released its Information Bulletin on the Application of the Competition Act to Representations Made on the Internet, in which it states its intention to assert Canadian jurisdiction over foreign entities to the fullest extent authorized by law whenever necessary to protect the Canadian market from misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices.
The Competition Act has been amended to prohibit the sending of electronic notices stating that a prize has been or will be won if the recipient pays a fee or otherwise incurs a cost. No offence arises if the recipient actually receives the prize and the individual who sent the electronic notice provides fair and adequate disclosure.
The recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court in Kanitz v Rogers Cable Inc is the second major case in Canada to uphold the enforceability of contracts formed through electronic means.
Consultation papers on digital copyright issues and the application of the Copyright Act's compulsory retransmission licence to the Internet have been issued with a view to amending the Copyright Act.
Though they do not have the force of law, and compliance has been voluntary, the Competition Bureau's draft guidelines for online advertising contain insights on how the Competition Act's provisions concerning false and misleading representations are likely to apply to online advertising conducted by commercial websites.
The government has issued a consultation paper on digital copyright issues. The principles guiding reform include the promotion of a competitive e-commerce sector and technological neutrality.
Including: Government Policy on E-Business; Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act; Provincial Acts; Intellectual Property; Policy on Internet and New Media Regulation