Canadian advisory council report out. [cr-95/9/20]


(The following is reposted by the author's permission.--Andy)

** Topic: Grassroots Groups Respond to IHAC **
** Written  9:18 AM  Sep 28, 1995 by •••@••.••• in cdp:media.issues **
From: •••@••.••• (Mark Surman)
Subject: Public Interest Groups Respond to IHAC

**IHAC Report Fails Canadians**

TORONTO -- September 27, 1995 -- Today's Information Highway Advisory
Council Report is fundamentally flawed and fails to protect the interests of
Canadians. While it touches on the important issues of access, privacy and
employment, the Report does not ensure that Canada's information highway
will contribute to democracy and prosperity.

While 'universal access' is a laudable goal, the IHAC Report lacks the
specific recommendations needed to make it a reality. "An unregulated
private sector has never before provided universal access to vital
services," says Internet literacy specialist Mark Surman. "Why would it be
any different with the information highway?" We need a broad-based National
Access Strategy to ensure equality and diversity on the information highway.

The IHAC recommendations do not guarantee Canadians' privacy -- the right to
control and protect their personal information. "While the Report calls for
stronger privacy legislation, it relies too heavily on voluntary compliance
by the private sector," says information policy specialist Andrew Clement.
"We need mandatory standards as strong as those recently adopted by the
European Union."

The Report fails to address the serious impact that the information highway
will have on employment. "The employment implications have either been
neglected or trivialized," says sociologist Gale Moore.  "We need wider
consultation and a forward looking agenda if we hope to deal with  the
profound implications of information technology on the future of work."

IHAC's over-reliance on market forces is a departure from the principle that
communications infrastructure requires public support and regulation to
ensure that the costs and benefits are distributed equitably. "The Report
calls on governments to get out of the way so business can call the shots,"
observes community activist Colin Williams.

It is not surprising that the IHAC recommendations subordinate the needs of
most Canadians to business priorities, as the process was dominated by
corporate representatives and was closed to public input. "There's been no
broad consultation or impact analysis.  It's 'full speed ahead' on the
information highway, no matter what we hit or who we crush," says telework
researcher Margaret Oldfield.

The Government must consult the people of Canada before it further develops
the policies and regulations which will shape our information future.

Contacts:       Andrew Clement                  Mark Surman
                voice 416.978.3111              voice 416.596.0212 x15
                fax 416.971.1399                fax 416.596.1374
                •••@••.•••         •••@••.•••

Page 2....

**Other Groups Respond to IHAC**

The following groups have also raised concerns about the IHAC Report and
continue to encourage stronger public voices in the development of Canada's
information highway. They are available for comment.

"Market-driven solutions to unemployment clearly do not work."

Jean Claude Parrot --Canadian Labour Congress -- 613.521.3400 (Ottawa)

"The public needs a voice in the debates about how all Canadians can connect
to the informaiton highway, what the cost is, what kind of  information is
available and which rules apply."

Maureen Cubberly --Coalition for Public Information --416.955.9268 (Toronto)

"We need a comprehensive information technologies policy in Canada. What we
are in danger of getting instead is something which will pass for policy,
but is really only a reaction to decisions which have already been made by
industry without public consultation."

John Stevenson --Internet Public Interest Research Group --514.481.9912

"The government must act immmediately to set up a public advisory panel to
deal with policy issues surrounding access, basic services, affordability
and privacy.  Our social, cultural and political life depends on it."

Marita Moll --Public Information Highway Advisory Council --613.232.1505

"If we're all facing a knowledge-based economy, driven by small business
innovation, community-based self help, and greater degrees of
entrepreneurial individual initiative and responsibility, then our survival
depends on the ability of every Canadian to be a player in accessible
electronic public space."

Garth Graham --Telecommunities Canada --613.253.3497 (Ottawa)

"Canadians must have the ability to participate in the creation of a more
serious and thoughtful approach to dealing with the crucial social issues
raised by the advent of Information Highway.  Bows to the gods of the free
market just won't do it."

Sid Shniad --Telecommunication Workers Union -- 604.437.8601 (Vancouver)

Side bar:

The Information Highway Working Group is a coalition of citizens concerned
about public interests and the information highway. IHWG members include:

*Andrew Clement
University of Toronto (FIS)
*Kelly Gotlieb
University of Toronto
*Liss Jeffery
McLuhan Centre
*Ted Magder
York University
*Gale Moore
University of Toronto
*Margaret Oldfield
telework researcher
*Mark Surman
Web Networks/NirvCentre
*Colin Williams
community activist

Mark Surman
Training Materials Developer
Web Networks/NirvCentre

** End of text from cdp:media.issues **

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
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