Attempting to regulate the present from the past – Canadian Government Executive

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Renewal
January 14, 2015

Attempting to regulate the present from the past

Quote of the week

“There’ll probably be some desire to look at how technology is affecting the taxi industry.”

— Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

Editor’s Corner

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was referring to Uber. This online third-party ride sharing company is the classic example of how technology and regulation can come up against each other.

Cities – and the taxi industry they regulate – have reacted angrily to Uber’s app-driven product that allows riders to bypass cabs.

Officials argue that regulation of the industry ensures standards and safety (though most must surely concede it does little for service). Proponents of Uber and like offerings argue that the taxi industry has become an over-protected monopoly, and that this new competitive model is better for the customer.

A similar tension exists in the Canadian regulated broadcasting industry, where it is being asked if it is reasonable to regulate cable and Canadian content the way we do in a world where more and more citizens are watching their programs streamed over the Internet?

The question, essentially, comes down to whether the regulatory systems that were set up to respond to specific needs are still required. Has technology made either the systems, or in fact the need itself, outdated and redundant?

As the OECD notes in a report on the topic of innovation and regulation, “the development of digital technology and other advances continue to revolutionize the [telecommunications] sector [where] outdated regulations are governing products and services which didn’t even exist when the rules were formulated.”

Canadian Government Executive magazine, along with the Institute on Governance and five partners, is holding a Digital Governance Forum on January 28 and 29 in Ottawa that will explore how technology is affecting our Westminster system of government – technology’s impact on regulation will be among the topics explored.

Google – a sponsor of the Forum along with Adobe and Microsoft – will be speaking on this topic. Other Forum speakers include keynote Don Tapscott and Chrystia Freeland, MP, to name just two.

To find out more, and to register, go to www.digital-governance.ca.

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