SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

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Minister Clement Talks Digital Economy With University of Alberta Students

EDMONTON, ALBERTA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/23/11 -- Today, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, was at the University of Alberta to participate in a discussion forum with students on a range of digital economy issues.

"This generation of Canadian students is vital to the success of our digital economy," said Minister Clement. "They are knowledgeable and passionate about how technology affects our lives and our society. I have enjoyed my time here today and appreciated hearing their opinions on the pressing issues."

Minister Clement updated the audience on the various actions taken by the Harper Government to advance the digital economy strategy, including passing new anti-spam legislation, introducing changes to Canada's privacy legislation, as well as bringing in a comprehensive update to the Copyright Act. He also discussed the government's opposition to a recent CRTC decision regarding usage-based billing as well as to what he called a proposed "iPod tax."

To learn more about the development of Canada's first digital economy strategy and its consultation process, visit the Canada's Digital Economy Strategy website (http://www.digitaleconomy.gc.ca).

Backgrounder

Digital Economy Strategy: Recent Government Decisions

Digital technologies play a major role in almost every activity in our economy and society, changing how we do business, how we shop, how we interact, and how we entertain ourselves. From a business standpoint, Canada's future prosperity depends on our country being a key player in the global digital economy. The improvements in productivity afforded by digital technologies are crucial to ensuring a prosperous and profitable future for us all and to sustaining the quality of life that Canadians enjoy. This is why the Government of Canada, with input from Canadians, is creating a new digital economy strategy.

For this strategy to be successful, Canadian consumers must be able to take advantage of digital technologies. They must have choice in the technology services that they purchase. This requires a well-functioning online marketplace, governed by appropriate legislation and regulations, to ensure increasing confidence in digital technologies and online transactions.

The Government of Canada has in recent months made two decisions that will make the digital economy more accessible to Canadians.

Proposed levy on digital audio recording devices

On December 14, 2010, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, and the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, announced that as part of its copyright legislation, the Government of Canada would not support a proposal to put in place a levy on the purchase of MP3 players and other digital devices used to record music.

Dubbed an "iPod Tax" by the ministers, the last time such a levy was proposed, it was to add an additional $75 to the price of MP3 players and smart phones. Any additional costs on MP3 players and smart phones could well be passed along to the consumer.

At the same time, those who make their living from creating original works and use digital technology to bring those works to market will be protected by Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act, which was tabled in June 2010. The bill includes new rights and protections to enable creators to prosper in a digital environment as well as tough tools to help rights-holders combat piracy.

Usage-based billing

On January 25, 2011, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a decision that would force small independent Internet service providers (ISPs) to charge their customers overage fees for exceeding download caps. The Government of Canada's policy is to encourage competition, increase consumer choice, minimize regulation and allow market forces to prevail.

The Government expressed its concern over this decision, and its possible effect on consumers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators in Canada. In order to continue to innovate and participate in the digital economy, Canadians must have meaningful choice in their Internet services and the opportunity to take full advantage of advanced online applications.

On February 3, 2011, the CRTC announced that it would initiate a review of its decision, to ensure that small ISPs keep the flexibility they need to continue to innovate for the benefit of Canadian consumers, while ensuring that those who most heavily use the Internet pay for their excess use

This review will delay the implementation of this decision for 60 days from the original implementation date of March 1, 2011.

Contacts:
Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Industry
Heather Hume - Press Secretary
613-995-9001

Industry Canada
Media Relations
613-943-2502

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