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Digital Policy Salon: Our Virtual Identities

Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Our Virtual Identities
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #36 • View online
Welcome to the 36th issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing.
Tesla isn’t the only one making waves in the tech sector this week, and our policy updates and “what we’re reading” bring you news from an already bustling February. Beyond attention-grabbing global tech trends, however, Canadians have also been busy at home. Here, updates relate to secure virtual identities, and our first interview piece tackles Digital IDs in Canada and one organization leading the charge to create a robust, secure, scalable, inclusive, and privacy-enhancing digital ecosystem. In addition, we’d like to highlight a recent article on new privacy legislation from ICTC researchers in DM Magazine (see page 4).
From “our perspective,” we highlight the importance of intellectual property protections for Canadian businesses. In our second interview, a bioethicist from Toronto’s Sickkids Hospital talks about the dangers of “over-trust” in AI explainability. And, if our long line of policy pieces has only made you want more, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the issue for a new infographic on improving the social impacts of technology.
Finally, we’re pleased to bring you a special event tomorrow: Indigenous EdTech, Teaching, & Issues of Connectivity: A Panel Discussion. Reserve your place today.
- The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)

Policy Updates 🇨🇦
Four Canadian privacy commissioners find Clearview AI in violation of Canadian privacy law
A joint investigation by the federal privacy commissioner and the provincial privacy commissioners of Alberta, British Columbia, and Québec has found US facial recognition company Clearview AI in violation of Canadian privacy law.
The commissioners have called on Clearview to delete all images and biometric facial arrays collected from individuals in Canada. The company, however, has expressly disagreed with the investigation’s findings and has not confirmed that it is willing to do so. The investigation further highlights clear shortfalls in Canadian privacy law.
Union activity continues within the tech industry, both at local and international levels
Employees at the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon warehouse began a 7-week long mail-in voting process on Monday: they will decide whether to become the first US-based Amazon warehouse to unionize. Pro-union employees have cited high stress and injury rates, heavy workplace surveillance, and a lack of formal grievance procedures as their primary motives.
Two weeks earlier, Alphabet employees from ten countries around the world formed an international coalition called Alpha Global. The coalition says it will work across borders “to build a more ethical and accountable company.”
Ford and GM pledges are the latest in a series of EV announcements by vehicle manufacturers
General Motors announced in late January that it will invest $27 billion US into electric vehicles (EVs) over the next five years, while seeking to make most of its vehicles electric by 2035 and the entire company carbon neutral by 2040. Last week, Ford Motor Company also announced that it will have spent at least $22 billion US on EVs by 2025.
CBC News recently reported that growing EV sales may create an opportunity for companies in Alberta to produce and supply lithium, which is required for EV batteries. According to one researcher, “some key players have reached the pilot stage with aims to reach an industrial scale process in two to five years.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk made headlines twice this week, first for launching a global carbon capture competition, and then for making a big bet on the future of blockchain currency
The Musk Foundation launched a global carbon capture competition on Monday, which will take place from April 2021 to Earth Day, 2025. Participants will need to find ways to remove gigatons of carbon directly from the world’s atmosphere or oceans while vying for $100 million US in prizes. That same day, Tesla disclosed in a SEC filing that it had bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and announced that it may begin taking payments in bitcoin sometime in the near future. - Mairead Matthews
Our Perspective
Bolstering Growth: The Next Frontier for Canadian Startups | White Paper Overview
Special Events
Indigenous EdTech, Teaching & Issues of Connectivity: A Panel Discussion
Interviews in the Field
A conversation with DIACC President Joni Brennan: The Digital ID Imperative
Joni Brennan, President at Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada - DIACC
Joni Brennan, President at Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada - DIACC
Ethics, Explainable AI, and Social Determinants of Health: A Conversation with Bioethicist Dr. Melissa McCradden
Dr. McCradden, Bioethicist and a Project Investigator with the Genetics & Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
Dr. McCradden, Bioethicist and a Project Investigator with the Genetics & Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
What We're Reading
Hyundai: The carmaker aiming to become a tech firm
Research Visualized
As illustrated by our policy updates, technologies have a huge variety of impacts on the world. Two weeks ago, we released our newest report: Responsible Innovation in Canada and Beyond: Understanding and Improving the Social Impacts of Technology. As an organization that studies technology, we see everything from technologies combatting climate change to technologies with severe privacy implications. However, several strategies span tech development and can help improve the impact of nearly any new innovation. Designers and policymakers can proactively consider social context by practicing diverse and inclusive hiring or responding rapidly to problems that arise at scale. In addition, there are shared values we can bring to ethical technology, including anticipation, inclusion, and respect for user agency.
Twitter Highlights
Canada Trade
Once in force, the 4 new decisions to implement #CETA’s Investment Chapter will bring more consistency, transparency and fairness in the resolution of investment disputes under #CETA. 👉

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