Canadian Digital Regulators Forum: AI surge & data in focus

 Canadian Digital Regulators Forum: AI surge & data in focus

Image courtesy: Canadian Digital Regulators Forum

In an important announcement, Canada has established a new forum for citizen collaboration, Canadian Digital Regulators Forum, on June 8th. This is a collaborative effort between three agencies — the Competition Bureau (Bureau), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC). It will enable information sharing on matters related to digital markets and platforms, as well as researching new solutions.

Through this forum, these agencies will share best practices, research advancements, and simplify inter-agency collaboration. The focus is on common interests, such as data portability or artificial intelligence developments. The forum is headed by Commissioners from each agency: Matthew Boswell (Bureau), Vicky Eatrides (CRTC), and Philippe Dufresne (OPC).

“This partnership represents a fantastic opportunity for the Bureau to strengthen its relationships with the OPC and CRTC and develop a holistic understanding of emerging digital issues. I am excited to see what comes of this Forum.”

Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau

The Members expect the Forum to be an informal way for them to solve problems, conduct market research, and exchange best practices. They established the Forum to strengthen their regulatory capabilities and better carry out particular responsibilities, through greater partnership and cooperation.

Also read: Canada ChatGPT investigation: Privacy officials to dig more

Importantly, the Member agencies remain individually responsible for carrying out their duties, and the Forum will not formally advise or direct them.

“We must ensure that all Canadians have what they need to take advantage of the possibilities of the digital age. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Competition Bureau and the OPC to find solutions to emerging issues.”

Vicky Eatrides, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC

Several events leading to formation of Canadian Digital Regulators Forum

Philippe Dufresne (OPC) mentioned that in the quickly changing digital economy of today, regulators must work together across crossing fields. He further said that the Members will gradually build the knowledge and experience shared in this forum. And they aim to create a digital economy where the basic right to privacy is promoted and maintained.

As per the terms of reference of the Forum, The Core Working Group will attempt to hold quarterly meetings, while the Member Heads will meet 1-2 times annually. These will provide updates to Members on pertinent events, exchange knowledge, solicit assistance, and promote prioritized goals and objectives.

It’s worth noting that Canadian government has recently been concerned about the privacy and data use by private companies. This was evident especially in the case of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, where multiple agencies decided to come together for an investigation. The same followed after the initial announcement by the Privacy Commissioner about the investigation. At the same time, some Members of Parliament have been putting pressure on the government to be faster in its response, including the context and contents of Bill C-27.

The sudden and explosive surge of use of generative AI platforms by general public has taken governments world over quite unprepared. Several governments have either banned or talked about banning ChatGPT, including Italy, Germany, France and Ireland.

On their part, several leaders of AI firms have asked for more regulation, e.g. OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman has asked for global cooperation to regulate AI.

Also read: ChatGPT creator OpenAI now under investigation by Canada


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