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Digital Policy Salon: A Fast Start

Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: A Fast Start
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #34 • View online
Welcome to the 34th issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing.
We’re ringing in the New Year with many policy updates, as 2021 has hit the ground running with big changes in the regulation of online platforms such as social media sites. In other news, vaccine rollouts are underway across Canada, and our January Economic Update accordingly provides an in-depth look at health and the economy. Until the promise of vaccines is realized, we’re still operating in a virtual world, and this edition includes an overview of a Vancouver-based public engagement event on redesigning downtown cores.
Our technology news features updates from our team members digitally attending this year’s CES 2021 (Consumer Electronics Show), and in “what we’re reading,” we celebrate Wikipedia’s 20th birthday with a discussion of its open-source legacy. Finally, we’re excited to bring you an upcoming special event on technology and accessibility. If you haven’t yet registered for this virtual panel, reserve your place on Eventbrite today.
Wishing you a great start to 2021,
- The Digital Policy Salon Team

Technology and Policy Updates 🇨🇦
Following a federal cabinet shuffle on Tuesday, the Honourable François-Phillipe Champagne has replaced Minister Navdeep Bains as the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
Just two weeks into the new year, 2021 has already proven to be a catalyst year for the governance of big tech and regulation of online content hosted by online platforms.
The federal government announced on January 4th that it is working on new legislation to get companies to better police hate speech, radicalization, child exploitation, and other illegal content posted on their platforms. That same day, a group of 225 employees at Google formed the Alphabet Workers Union, the first workers’ union to emerge from a big tech company to date.
Before the new year, in December 2020, Facebook established new rules for targeted advertising to prevent discrimination in job, housing, and credit services ads. For these kinds of ads, advertisers will no longer be able to target audiences based on age, gender, postal code, and other protected criteria.
One week later, social media company Twitter established new rules to require the removal of tweets with false or misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, including those “used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations” or “invoke a deliberate conspiracy.”
Following 2020 trends, the new year kicked off with continued reliance on virtual education and online learning tools for K-12 educational institutions.
To slow down rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec have returned to online-only learning following the winter break. The return has resurfaced challenges associated with at home learning for students and parents, including disparities in technology access and gendered impacts on the labour force.
Meanwhile, Bow Valley College in Calgary, Alberta is seeing the benefits of its virtual reality nursing training program, which it began six months prior to the pandemic. The school is looking into adapting the program for desktop computers so that more nursing students can learn from home.
As pandemic-related closures and restrictions continue, computer-generated, virtual influencers are seeing increased followers and attention on social media; and have even begun landing advertising deals with big-name companies. According to social media analytics firm Hype Auditor, virtual influencers “have almost three times the engagement rate of real influencers.” - Mairead Matthews
Our Perspective
January 2021 Economic Update: The Road to Recovery
Let’s Talk Smart Cities: Vancouver
Special Events
Join Us For a Virtual Panel Discussion
Highlights from ICTC at CES 2021
Virtual CES 2021 Kicks Off with Verizon CEO Talking About 5G
Trust is Key to the Growth and Acceptance of AI in Healthcare: CES2021 Panel Discussion
What We're Reading
The other tech giant: Wikipedia is 20, and its reputation has never been higher
Research Visualized
COVID-19 in Toronto: Number of Active Cases by Neighbourhood
Twitter Highlights
Billy Wu
Amazing stuff from @OpenAI's #DALLE project using #AI to generate images from text. Avocado chairs look great. Lobster Pikachu still needs some work... Go home AI, you're drunk https://t.co/8zaAEHR5xw https://t.co/ouPcJRmC0m
Talk to Us 💬
Send your comments, questions, and tech policy insights to:
Subscribe to ICTC’s flagship newsletter here.
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