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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

The Government of Canada is currently working to make its websites WCAG 2.0 compliant (WCAG stands for “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines”). The guidelines help ensure that websites are accessible to a wider range of users with sight or hearing impairments.

There are 38 success criteria in WCAG 2.0 and, from my understanding, only 16 of these 38 can be verified using automated tools. The others require verification by a human being because they context-dependent. To help with this manual verification, I have put together a simplified checklist:

There are a few things this checklist won’t verify. First, it doesn’t include most of the criteria already covered by existing automated tools. Second, it is meant for content management system (CMS) users who are only concerned about the primary content of the page. It therefore doesn’t include success criteria related to elements found in headers, footers, or navigation menus that are standard across all page in a CMS.

Feedback of any kind is most welcome.

I’m sharing this with the hope others may find it useful and possibly help me improve it (or point me to a better alternative). We all win when the web becomes more inclusive.

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The Copyright Consultation organized by the Government of Canada has come and gone. Last year’s Bill C-61 caused a bit of an uproar, which prompted the government’s new Industry Minister to take a different approach. The result was a public consultation that included a submission process for regular citizens and a series of roundtable talks with a variety of experts.

This has been done before. Back in 2001, a few short years after the DMCA came into effect in the U.S., the Canadian government held a similar consultation and expected the regular handful of lobby groups to weigh in. They were flabbergasted (or so I was told) when they received over 700 responses from average people (including a pretty terrible one from myself which will probably live forever on the Internet). And contrary to the lobbyists’ view, many of those hundreds of public submissions took a very anti-DMCA stance, which complicated matters a little bit.

It’s being said now that this recent consultation process gathered over 8100 submissions, more than ten times the amount from the consultation in 2001. Again, the public is generally anti-DMCA/Bill C-61, but other issues have been brought forward, too, such as abolishing Crown copyright and notice-and-notice versus notice-and-takedown. Overall, the process appears to have been much more constructive.

There are some fantastic submissions, and I especially enjoyed reading Michael Geist’s and Laura J. Murray’s. My own just snuck in on the last day and, after a few weeks of delay, it’s now finally up on the website. Even if my contribution isn’t as detailed as some of the others I’m happy that I managed to participate once more.

(Thanks for to Laura J. Murray and Sam Trosow for writing Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide, which I used while drafting my submission, and which will remain on my Quick Reference Shelf above my desk until the Copyright Act changes significantly).

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We’ve had a Privacy Commissioner here in Canada for decades now, but the office has become much more visible since January 1, 2001, when the first phase of PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) came into effect. Since January 1, 2004, the Act has applied to all organizations that collect and use personal data and assures some privacy for citizens. A good example is the transfer of personal data from one commercial organization to another. Under PIPEDA in Canada, such a transfer is forbidden unless the person to whom the data corresponds explicitly consents. From my own experience, I have noticed that subscriptions to American magazines always resulted in an increase in the volume of junk mail sent to our home, whereas the same doesn’t occur for Canadian magazine subscriptions.

With the Act in full effect for almost six years, it’s really nice to see the Office of the Privacy Commissioner backing it up and taking on significant problem cases. Recently, they confronted Facebook for passing on personal information to third parties without users’ prior consent. Last week saw the OPC get the changes they wanted from the social networking site. That’s a pretty big win and it’s made even more significant by the fact that the consequences aren’t limited to Canadians — all Facebook users will benefit.

Companies that keep users’ personal data in the cloud may be wise to check out Canada’s PIPEDA, even if they’re based in another country. If their business models depend upon transferring my personal data to other organizations, I hope they’ll have the decency of asking me first…

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Information about a Net Neutrality Town Hall just came my way through a CLA mailing list. It features some interesting speakers: Michael Geist needs no introduction, and Charlie Angus has recently tabled a Net Neutrality bill in Canadian Parliament for the second time (Bill C-398).

Here’s the info:

Speakers:

  • Michael Geist, University of Ottawa
  • Jacob Glick, Google
  • Charlie Angus, NDP Heritage Critic
  • Rocky Gaudrault, CEO of Teksavvy Solutions Inc.

When: Wednesday June 10, 2009, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Where:
Ottawa Public Library Auditorium
120 Metcalfe Street

Note that the hosts are looking for an RSVP on http://saveournet.ca/ottawa

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Michael Geist is reporting that the Canadian government will (finally!) table an anti-spam bill in the House of Commons tomorrow:

The bill carries the unwieldly name of “An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act.”  The title obviously indicates that the anti-spam bill will feature a multi-pronged approach to fighting spam with a role for the CRTC, the Competition Bureau, and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

It will be interesting to see how this compares to the anti-spam bill tabled in the Senate, almost one year ago (apart from the 52-word title of the new bill).

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