Canadian Lawyer

February 2021

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Page 10 of 35 9 Michael Geist on tech law In December, the University of Ottawa announced that the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law has been renewed for law professor Michael Geist. Geist is an expert on technology law and policy, focusing his research on the policy areas of intel- lectual property, privacy, e-commerce and the liability of Internet platforms regarding the conduct of their users. Geist's first CRC in Internet and E-commerce Law (Tier 2) was awarded in 2003, which was renewed in 2008, and he has held a Tier 1 CRC since 2013. What first attracted you to this area of the law and policy research? At first, I loved law and technology because it felt so new. There are many great areas of the law worthy of exploration, but as the internet emerged in the late 1990s, I was drawn to a field where there just seemed to be a myriad of novel legal issues to explore, with a genuine opportunity to chart a new path. In recent years, internet and e-commerce law has become far more established, but the complexities of a global, online environment ensure that there are always new challenges to address. What do you anticipate doing with this renewed CRC in Internet and E-commerce Law? This is a pivotal time in internet and e-commerce law and policy. The COVID-19 global pandemic has massively accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, but the legal and policy frameworks have struggled to keep pace. My research agenda focuses on the intersection between law, technology and policy, with an emphasis on issues such as establishing a modern- ized privacy law, ensuring copyright laws remain flex- ible in the digital environment and internet rules that safeguard both users and freedom of expression. What do you see as being the most press- ing concerns for Canadians today in internet access, privacy and e-commerce? The government has turned its attention to digital policy issues in a very serious way. The starting point is unquestionably ensuring that all Canadians have ac- cess to affordable broadband and wireless networks, since access is now essential for virtually all aspects of community and economic life. In May, the federal government announced a new Digital Charter for Canadians; how is the gov- ernment measuring up to what it promised then? The government moved slowly on implementing the Digital Charter, much to the frustration of those who have waited years for legislative reforms. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, as Bill C-11, which would overhaul outdated privacy rules, was in- troduced in the fall. The challenge will be to undertake a comprehensive review of the legislation and see it passed into law before the next federal election. Retired SCC justice appointed Independent Review Authority Morris Fish, a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, has been appointed as the third Independent Review Authority to examine Canada's military justice system. The review will inspect the Code of Service Discipline, including matters relating to the individuals subject to the Code, substantive service offences, punishments sanctioning service offences, arrest, pretrial custody, sentencing, Court Martial trials and appeals to the Court Martial Appeal Court and SCC. Refugee lawyers criticize new CBSA removal policy The Canada Border Services Agency's decision to recommence removals of all inadmissible foreign nationals in Canada is unilateral, unsound and prejudicial to public health, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers told the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in a letter dated Dec. 2. It called for the reinstatement of the previous policy until Canada can more effectively control the COVID-19 pandemic and public health authorities recommend the resumption of international travel. 2020 National Prosecution Awards winners The Federal-Provincial- Territorial Heads of Prosecutions Committee has awarded the Commitment to Justice Award to Robert Hubbard and Fran├žois Lacasse. Hubbard, Crown counsel at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, has served as a federal and provincial prosecutor for 44 years. Lacasse, senior general counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, has more than 30 appearances in the Supreme Court of Canada. Q&A Michael Geist Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law; professor, Law UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA Years holding a Canada Research Chair: 7 Career highlight: The growth of the internet law field in both law schools and in the public policy realm. When I started to build a program together with my late, great colleague Ian Kerr in the late 1990s, we had dreams of a thriving, energetic environment with faculty and students from around the world grappling with the technology law challenges of the day. To see that come to fruition . . . is enormously gratifying.

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