ExperimentsInformation & LawLab NotesNotesReflections

Abandoning the concept (and illustration) of “information collection” for that of “production”

In its original 1990 version, the theory of interpersonal information processes refers to collection as one of information’s logical phases. The term collection is borrowed from protection of personal information law, which itself borrowed it from the lexicon of public and private bureaucracies. However, the word collection (action to pick a pre-existing object) masks the presence of a production of new informational artifacts. The result is that several implications are veiled, particularly those related to the intellectual property of the new information objects and to their pragmatic dimension.

The question then is: should collection really be considered as a logical phase of information? Or is it the chosen term that is inadequate? (more…)

DebatesField RemarksInformation & LawLab NotesLiving between the linesNotesObservations

“Lawful access” bill: journalists discovering being targeted

Débats - DebatesA sudden tug of war between the Charest government and journalists caused a shock wave the echoes of which have rippled through throughout the Canadian journalistic profession. A jolt that could help realize how the “lawful access” bill introduced this Monday, Feb. 13 also concerns journalists and media organizations.

A threat

Last week, the Charest government announced that the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions and the Sureté du Québec (provincial police force) would investigate on leaks to media related to the Ian Davidson case, a retired Montreal police officer suspected of attempting to sell lists of police informants to organized crime. Neither the Minister of Public Safety Robert Dutil, nor Premier Jean Charest have agreed to guarantee that journalists would not be investigated or wiretap. (more…)

DebatesInformation & LawLiving between the linesNotesObservations

Winning against the “lawful access” bills: Two strategic intuitions

Débats - DebatesAre there actions we could start today in a decisive campaign against the adoption of so called “lawful access” bills by Canada? I came to answer “yes” while listening to a presentation by Antoine Beaupré, system administrator at Koumbit. It was during a public meeting entitled ” ‘Illegal access’ and the attack of internet freedoms”, on February 3, 2012, in Montreal.

Let’s remind us that the “lawful access” bills that already died three times because of dissolution of Parliament have not been tabled again yet. However, it is expected that the Harper government will go ahead. The latest versions of the legislation gave the police new powers to access data held by Internet services providers (ISPs). They allowed the mandatory disclosure of customer information without judicial oversight, as well as real-time monitoring across ISPs’ networks. All measures deemed unnecessary and dangerous, not only by civil libertarians, but by many police forces also. A detailed legal analysis was published recently by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

The meeting was organized by Koumbit an IT workers coop that offers several services including web hosting: thus, it has already had its share of searches for information and of servers. Like many other businesses it that field, Koumbit fears the effects of the “lawful access” initiatives on the civil liberties of its customers and of all the citizens who use the Internet from anywhere in the world. Indeed, the opening presentation of Antoine Beaupré dealt with less the legal aspects of the bills as of their technical and political dimensions. (more…)

Field RemarksInformation & LawLab NotesLiving between the linesNotesObservations

Digital identities and assets in case of death or incapacity – A first summary

The text that follows both summarizes (but discussion is only just beginning) and complete previously published notes on the subject beginning with this one. This text is derived from my notes in preparation for the interview I gave to the La Sphère on the Première Chaine of Radio-Canada, February 4, 2012.

The personal story

As I became a grandfather in May, I thought it was a good time to review my will and mandate in case of incapacity. Except that I discovered that I had to ask my representatives or executors to handle lots of online accounts and digital documents. The large majority of my documents are to be found in digital forms: letters, records, invoices, contracts, tax documents, bank and accounting books, photos. These files are embedded in computers, hard drives, servers, USB keys, DVDs, data cards, media player protected by user names, passwords, and encryption keys.

Pierrot Péladeau en entrevue - in interview

As many of you, several dimensions of my life are carried on: (more…)

Field RemarksInformation & LawLab NotesLiving between the linesNotesObservations

The Chambre des notaires corrects its position on the management of digital identities and assets

ObservationsEarlier this week, I reported that Antonin Fortin, Director of Communications and Assistant to the President of the Chambre des notaires du Québec (CNQ, notaries’ professional corporation), wrote about management of digital identities and assets in case of death or incapacity:

We are talking about a complex, relatively new and evolving phenomenon. In addition, the CNQ cannot substitute itself to the legislator and “create” law in this matter. To our knowledge, there is no guide to meet your expectations.

(My translation)

Having been invited to an interview on the subject on La Sphère radio show on Radio-Canada’s Première Chaine on Saturday, February 4, I wanted to get confirmation that this response did represent the official position of the corporation.

On the phone, Mr. Fortin told me that he read again my emails and then realized that he had not properly understood what was their subject-matter. He said that the official position of the Chambre des notaire would rather be that it asked Mr. Salvas Bertrand, a notary who works mainly in training and is interested in this subject, to study the issue and quickly formulate recommendations. These could possibly take the form of advices, guides and training contents.

Specifically, Antonin Fortin said he had forwarded my emails and my proposals to Mr. Salvas.

That is reassuring. Indeed, is the mission of a professional corporation not precisely to protect the public?

Field RemarksInformation & LawLab NotesLiving between the linesNotesObservations

The Chambre des notaires abdicates management of digital identities and assets


Last week I reported that my notary declared that she was unable to help me manage the components of my digital of identities and assets in case of death (will) or inability (mandate).

I also described calling the legal information service of the Chambre des notaires du Québec (notaries’ professional corporation). The answering notary found my questions quite relevant and about pressing issues. However, she told me that the corporation had no available guide, checklist, standard clauses for will or mandate in case of incapacity, nor specific training to its members about these issues.

After publishing this article, I wrote to Jean Lambert, president of the Chambre des notaires (CNQ). I briefly described my situation and actions I took before asking the following questions:

Are there any guides, checklists, model provisions or tips on these topics?

If not, what are you waiting for to help us to live and die peacefully in this twenty-first century?

Response from the Chambre des notaires

In the absence of Mr. Lambert, it was Mr. Antonin Fortin, director of Communications and assistant to the president who responded: (more…)

CommunicationsInformation & LawLab NotesNotes

Lecture on the right to accessible information

by Catherine Roy
Director General of the Centre de recherche et d’expérimentation sur l’inclusion numérique (Centre for research and experimentation in digital inclusion)

le droit à l’accessibilité des informations

(right of access to documents in media readable by everyone)
in the wake of the judgment in Donna Jodhan v. Attorney General of Canada

Lecture in French

A founding member of the HTML for all Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and as well as of W3Québec (an organization promoting open standards and best practices for the web and multimedia), Ms. Roy will address in particular the respective roles of legislation and of technical standards in the evolution of law, here in regard to the accessibility of information.

Monday, April 11, 2011 from 18:00 pm to 19:30 pm, Room A-1720, UQAM (Hubert-Aquin building on 400 Sainte-Catherine East street, metro Berri-UQAM) as part of an Information Law course (JUR5512).

Free admission (the number of places being limited, please RSVP by email: peladeau dot pierrot @t uqam dot ca)

Jodhan c. A. G. of Canada
The legal news in the heart of the conference is the recent decision of the Federal Court in November 2010, v. Donna Jodhan Attorney General ofCanada, as amended by decision of January 2011 (French version:http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fr/2010/2010cf1197/2010cf1197.html; English version: http:// decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/2010/2010fc1197/2010fc1197.html). The main issue was whether the federal government had violated the right to equality guaranteed by the Canadian Charter, either by setting inadequate technical standards for Web accessibility to information, or by not implementing existing technical standards.

Information Law

This course acknowledges that much of the legal regulation of interpersonal relations mediated by information handlings flows from adhesion contracts, technical standards as well as rules and procedures incorporated into the informational devices themselves.

Learning to Live in Between the Lines: The Program

Notes of a mini-presentation at the 3rd Open Forum “Avenirs en chantiers “ (“Futures in Projects”)

organized by Communautique at the Monument national, Montreal, January 30th, 2009

Good afternoon,

To discuss about this first project, I will refer to a few of the topics addressed at the previous roundtable: money, the generation gap, the value of information, standards and what ordinary citizens can understand.

This project responds to the “Citizenship through technology / Efficient Mode of Legislation / Cyberdemocracy”theme identified during the previous two forums of January 24th and February 25th, 2008. It aims at developing the general public’s culture about the social role of information technology.

Our ignorance about how our social relations are organized by information technology is evident by comparison with our ease to understand one of the most abstracted form of information ever created by mankind: money. We would take ten people at random out here on the street and every one of them would understand what the nature of money is and what power (‘purchasing power’ we say) it represents. They could immediately discuss together the various roles that money can play in the relations between employers and employees, between State and citizens, between spouses, between parents and children, between components of society, and even between countries.

Everyone could discuss these from different angles, including the political one.

Should we not be able to discuss just as easily about all these other types of information, often handled by the same computers that process money, and which play at least as important roles in our lives?

This cultural gap is explained by the fact that money appears into human history more than sixty centuries ago (or 300 generations), but informatics for only sixty years ago (or three generations).

But the intensity, speed and consequences of the present computerization of society require of today’s citizens an accelerated learning process. Because it is today those we already need to ensure some social control over these transformations.

Fortunately, who can understand money, can understand other forms information. Just like who can form an opinion on a bill, can discuss how a computerization project will govern our lives. This information literacy program builds on two foundations:

Learning to Live Between the Lines: The Program: Foundations: Theory

  • on one hand, work that I have developed since the’80s on identification of which elements and dimensions of the physical handling of information are relevant to a legal, social, ethical or political discussion [The three publications marking the start of this search being : “L’informatique ordinatrice du droit et du procès d’information relatif aux personnes” (Informatics as It Programs Law and Personal Information Process), Technologies de l’information et société,1989; 1/3: 35-56; “Esquisse d’une théorie juridique des procès d’information relatifs aux personnes” (Outline of a Legal Theory of Information Processes About Persons), McGill Law Journal 1989; 34: 952-982; and “The Informational Privacy Challenge: The Technological Rule of Law”, in: Human Rights in Canada: Into the 1990s and Beyond, R. I. Cholewinski (publisher), Ottawa: Human Rights Research and Education Centre – University of Ottawa, 1990, 93-116]; and

Learning to Live Between the Lines: The Program: Foundations: Modelization

  • one the other hand, more recent work on how to visually present this physical handling of information in order to facilitate open discussion [The initial work described in “La modélisation visuelle des systèmes d’information en santé pour leur gestion administrative, légale et éthique” (Visual Modeling of Health Information Systems for their Administrative, Legal and Ethical Management) in Grant AM, Fortin JP et Mathieu L (publ.), L’informatique de la santé dans les soins intégrés : connaissances, applications, évaluation. Actes des 9e Journées Francophones d’Informatique Médicale (Informatics in integrated health care: knowledge, applications, assessment. Proceedings of the 9th Francophone Medical Informatics Symposium), Sherbrooke : Société Québécoise d’informatique Biomédicale et de la Santé(SoQibs), 2003, pp. 297-308.

Learning to Live Between the Lines: The Program: Notions for Citizens

The development work for a documentary movie project(funded by the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles – SODEC, but which has not yet been filmed) permit me to identify some twenty basic notions of informatics and social sciences needed by citizens to understand their information society. [Since 2007, these notions are, one by one, discussed in monthly radio column presented during the Citoyen numérique (Digital Citizen) weekly show on Radio-Montréal] In 2008, Communautique has successfully tested the communication of these concepts in adult education sessions with people, either with low levels of literacy, or unfamiliar with the use of computers (with a grant from the Canadian Council on Learning). Among the findings, it appears that these notions that can be introduced in a fifty minutes documentary require at least a dozen hours to be fully integrated by participants to a training session. Ideally, however, these notions should fit naturally into already existing education and communication activities. Hence the preparation of a training session program for instructors as well as the development of educational material, including video vignettes.

Learning to Live Between the Lines: The Program: Notions for Key ActorsIf generalized basic understanding of the social dimension of information is essential, it is not enough to ensure democratization of the computerization of society. Applied knowledge and advanced skills should also be developed.

Hence, for example, this project to train patients and their advocacy organizations to understand electronic patient records systems, to learn how to use them and, most importantly, to influence their development.

Learning to Live Between the Lines: The Program: Bridging Notions for Professionals

Hence also the need to also develop advanced training programs for the different parties involved in the design of computerization projects meant to handle interpersonal relationships. Because it must be said that the human and social aspects of these projects still are poorly accounted for as well as there are clear deficiencies in the training and the methods of various categories of professionals involved as well as of the representatives of involved citizens.

Learning to Live Between the Lines: The Program: Overview

The computerization of society demands us to learn, individually and collectively, how to live in between the lines of forms, files and statistics, the lines of codes and programs, the lines of transmission for information. Hence the name “Learning to live in between the lines” given to this program.

Communautique and its partnering organizations contribute to this program. I intend to devote to it most of my work for the next decade. We will need synergies and complicity for its development, for its dissemination as well as its integration as part of popular civic culture.

It is therefore an invitation to join this cultural venture, and even participate into the project itself.

Thank you.

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