When data meets regulatory uncertainty – Canadian Government Executive

NEWS

SEARCH

HR
Renewal
March 9, 2015

When data meets regulatory uncertainty

Last September Netflix refused the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) order to provide confidential subscriber information and in so doing called into question the Commission’s authority to regulate it under The Broadcasting Act.

Netflix’s decision was rooted in its concerns that any proprietary information provided to the CRTC might find its way into the public sphere and consequently the hands of the company’s competitors. This followed a similar refusal by Google – which owns YouTube – to provide confidential information to the Commission.

While these concerns are understandable, in other industries private service providers have partnered with governments to help in sector-wide planning. So the CRTC’s perspective is equally understandable, in what is ultimately a public battle for social licence to operate.

As cases like these illustrate, legitimacy in the eyes of the public is a core concern for both firms and regulators. Whether public or private, organizations that lose their social licence do so at their peril.

As concerns the regulatory environment, the CRTC’s experience with “disruptive” organizations may just be the tip of the iceberg. The emergence of big data – the collection of vast storehouses of personal and consumer information on Canadian citizens, both by government and private industry – is introducing new complexities to regulatory questions.

The choice of whether to use or pursue big or even open data strategies requires careful sector-specific consideration. Open data holds out the possibility of a future co-creation of services between government and citizens where citizens can lever government data to craft innovative service delivery options. But where public data is offered for private use, there is an omnipresent concern over socializing risk while privatizing gain.

Governments shoulder risk and take responsibility for collecting personal data and protecting the privacy and security of that information. Similarly, open government – the opening of the policy and decision-making process to citizens – could bolster government legitimacy in regulatory environments.

Yet, while efforts to make government more open, engaging and legitimate are important, they must be balanced against other public service values like efficiency, effectiveness, inclusivity and fairness. Further, despite greater openness and availability of data, the question of how best to spur innovation in any given industry is far from settled.

The recent Digital Governance Forum featured a panel on Big Data, Open Government and Regulation that explored many of the challenges facing Canadian regulators. Panelist and former CRTC chair Justice Konrad von Finckenstein lamented the absence in Canada of mechanisms to publish intended regulations online for public comment. In contrast, disruptive innovators like Netflix enjoy a visible and direct relationship with their consumers and thus have large constituencies likely to support their policy positions.

Von Finckenstein has stated elsewhere that the rise of “over-the-top” carriers like Netflix symbolizes the obsolescence of “traditional regulatory gatekeeping.” The CRTC, says von Finckenstein, has entered an era in which citizens are in control; and in this environment the old regulatory model is “seen as restrictive and clearly consumers don’t like it…it will have to change.”

Crowdsourcing may be used to improve regulatory frameworks and increase compliance. This was the case with the audit commission in the U.K. that used “an army of citizen auditors” to pour over the spending records of local councils published online. However, these are still emerging approaches and there remains substantial space to explore whether they improve compliance, create better outcomes, and facilitate more effective governance.

At the forum, Colin McKay, head of public policy and government relations at Google Canada, suggested that regulators must adjust to the level of risk with which consumers are themselves comfortable, instead of trying to regulate away every grey area. But as lawyer Christine Duhaime argues, regulatory clarity is a key issue for many: “Uncertainties caused by regulatory policy can push the risk profile of even the most exciting innovation like Bitcoin beyond what a venture capitalist can tolerate.”

At the same time, over-regulation threatens to snuff out early stage innovations before they have a chance to mature, a sentiment expressed by Bitcoin expert Andreas Antonopoulos in his testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.

In sum, the balance between regulatory clarity and citizen-based legitimacy through public participation is one that will likely differ from sector to sector as individual regulators go about their work within their specific industries.

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Renewal
 
In this issue of Canadian Government Executive, our lead story is...
 
Written by Jason McNaught Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page doesn’t...
 
Like all governments, the federal public service faces increasing demands for...
 
As a new assistant director in the Human Resources Branch at...
 
John Manzoni, the head of the U.K. public service, will be...
 
What is the central challenge facing government institutions and societies in...
 
Last September the federal government announced a small business hiring credit....
 
We hear it often about the digital era: “Everything has changed.”...
 
I don’t think governments have changed fundamentally since Al Gore made...
 
Last September Netflix refused the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC)...
 
Go ahead. Read the comments that anonymous users post under online...
 
There’s something happening here. It might not warrant the protest cry...
 
Blueprint 2020 continues to be the key driver in the federal...
 
On October 7, 2014 the World Bank Group (WBG) opened its...
 
Barring an early federal election call fraught with risk, our next...
 
The mantra on technology and change is becoming tiresome, I’m sure,...
 
The traditional definition of civic engagement is voter turnout. The traditional...
 
Well, there is little doubt that on the public sector front...
 
Most public sector conversations around the impact of digital refer to...
 
Since joining the federal government just over two years ago, there...
 
In the U.K., reform of the public sector has been a...
 
“Do you believe public servants are too politicized?” This was the...
 
I call today’s youth the Net Generation. Born between 1977 and...
 
I call today’s youth the Net Generation. Born between 1977 and...
 
they tend to gloss over the substantial range of public servants...
 
Commitment to social justice can erode in times of austerity, change,...
 
Francis Fukuyama is best known for his book, The End of...
 
i.e. profit. The public sector...
 
while there is something very good to be said about consistent...
 
commentEmail””:””peter.karwacki@servicecanada.gc.ca””...
 
but it’s an important distinction that the marketing needs don’t overshadow...
 
A year ago, the 7th annual report of the Prime Minister’s...
 
While the gist of the 7th annual report of the Prime...
 
If there is one thing governments spend a lot of time...
 
After seven years in the public service it was time to...
 
One of the challenges facing the public service is recruiting and...
 
Middle managers are emerging as the true change makers and disciples...
 
APEX suggests that some public servants do not appear to appreciate...
 
Public sector leaders face an environment characterized by complexity, shifting demographics...
 
The second annual CGE Leadership Summit was held yesterday in Ottawa....
 
Departments and social media platforms within the government have been encouraging...
 
In 1996, Pacific Rim Commonwealth countries shared experiences in managing complexity...
 
The changes that the public sector is going through are well...
 
December was the six month check-in for Blueprint 2020, the current...
 
Prime ministers matter when it comes to public service reform. In...
 
If you’ve read Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, you...
 
Blueprint 2020 follows similar efforts of previous Clerks who were trying...
 
The push for government cutbacks is running up against growing public...
 
It should come as no surprise that citizens who suffered the...
 
According to Booze and Co., change management, “because it is predicated...
 
Some of us are old enough to remember the New Public...
 
There has been no shortage of change initiatives driven by federal...
 
The Blueprint 2020 process is historic because it engages employees across...
 
Many nations look to the Canadian public service as a model...
 
Throughout the Blueprint 2020 campaign, I’ve heard one thing again and...
 
Over the past months, a number of teams within the federal...
 
Collaboration is the new mantra for how governments can work more...
 
In June, the Clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters, launched...
 
As government departments and the GoC Twitterverse continue to respond to...
 
To adapt to the forces of change reshaping our world and...
 
Dramatic transformations to historically stable institutions are creating exciting opportunities to...
 
Just had a fascinating discussion with Paul Macmillan about the new...
 
the message on the sign starts to sound juuuuust a little...
 
I was not surprised to hear one individual advise Louise that...
 
Today we are launching a CGE blog. So, you might ask,...
 
There is no denying that today’s students are the future of...
 
The government of the United States of America is starting to...
 
National Public Service Week’s theme this year is “Proudly Serving Canadians.”...
 
As part of its Big Society initiative, and linked to Prime...
 
I used to be a proud public servant. Now I’m not...
 
In the Twentieth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the...
 
The Clerk of the Privy Council spoke at the APEX Symposium...
 
At this time of global uncertainty, Canada has strong frameworks: a...
 
The best sand castle I ever built was constructed on top...
 
Yesterday the Auditor General released his spring report. The media played...
 
It is interesting that when you ask people why they work...
 
No one can predict the future. In a world of rapid...
 
The commentaries on Margaret Thatcher have focused on her determination and...
 
There are very few countries in the world where public sector...
 
Too often those implementing change in the public sector can get...
 
If you are a senior leader interested in adopting the Community...
 
I often refer to reports and information on government from the...
 
Federal public servants south of the border are, of course, concerned...
 
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a U.K. National...
 
Culture change takes time and requires the dedication of employees and...
 
The U.K. government public sector reforms, as outlined in the 2011...
 
The world today seems to be changing significantly faster than ever...
 
Many think the traditional Westminster system of public management is on...
 
Choice. It seems like such a simple thing, to choose to...
 
In Monday’s Globe and Mail, Donald Savoie wrote an op-ed piece...
 
I recently had the opportunity to attend Mega-ConnEX – a government-wide...
 
Minister Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, was preaching to...
 
Countries, particularly in the western industrialized world, are coming under increasing...
 
Henry Mintzberg observed in a 2007 CGE interview that management and...
 
The new Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada, Yaprak Baltacioglu,...
 
Last night in Toronto the head of the Ontario public service,...
 
It’s all very well to talk about making government smaller. But...
 
The question is: when will governments wake up and figure out...
 
More and more, money alone doesn’t cut it to attract and...
 
During the mid 1990s Canada gained a reputation internationally for public...
 
The U.K. has released its Civil Service Reform Plan, and anyone...
 
What do new professionals (NPs) need to better engage, contribute, and...
 
At the APEX Symposium last week, the President of the Treasury...
 
Wayne Wouters spoke at the APEX Symposium yesterday, and reiterated two...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Karen Ellis is Vice-President of the...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 What exactly do federal public servants...
 
Renewal is an ongoing process demanding hands-on commitment across a broad...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.6 June 2007 Public service renewal has become a...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Kevin Lynch is Clerk of the...
 
In the April edition, the Federal Youth Network wrote a memo...
 
When I was hired into the federal government in 2003, I...
 
Un demi-millénaire après le premier contact entre les Autochtones et les...
 
En Nouvelle-Zélande, la fonction publique représente 31 % du PIB....
 
Pour concrétiser tout véritable effort de renouvellement, la fonction publique devra...
 
New Zealand’s State Services comprise 31 percent of GDP. State servants...
 
Any truly meaningful renewal of the public service will, by necessity,...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.10 December 2007 Public servants are used to secretaries...
 
Treasury Board President Tony Clement is leading the federal government”s Strategic...
 
Allan Seckel joined the British Columbia public service in 2003 after...
 
In November, Canadians came face to face with the reality of...
 
On March 22, Federal Budget Day, the Harper government authorized the...
 
As promised, the advisory group on the future of the Australian...
 
While the Canadian approach has been piecemeal and incremental, some countries...
 
On March 31, the Clerk of the Privy Council Office submitted...
 
An interview with Deputy Minister Cassie Doyle....
 
Une entrevue avec le vice-ministre Cassie Doyle....
 
In October 2012, the Commonwealth Ministers Forum on Public Sector Development...
 
Is there reason to hope? Once again, the federal government has...
 
Chairing two national networks from Prince Edward Island can be challenging....
 
Recently I had the opportunity to be part of a panel...
 
Over the next five to ten years, the private and public...
 
Recognizing that the federal public service must evolve to keep pace...
 
With cuts anticipated in the upcoming budget, many public servants are...
 
The Canada School of Public Service is playing a significant role...
 
As canada@150 approaches the one-year anniversary of its final report, we...
 
Wicked issues? What does that mean? It means that traditional solutions...
 
We would like to share with you our ideas on how...
 
The economic meltdown has crippled governments already challenged by global warming,...
 
Join us on a trip around our planet as we explore...
 
The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner was created by...
 
Many young Canadians have joined the public service to serve their...
 
Best practices are a way of accomplishing a business function that...
 
The public service today has been enduring a barrage of criticism...
 
Thanks to demographic shifts, climate change, energy shortages, global economic meltdowns...
 
À cause de l’évolution démographique, du changement climatique, des pénuries d’énergie,...
 
Dans son quinzième rapport annuel au Premier ministre sur la fonction...
 
In the fifteenth annual report to the Prime Minister on the...
 
Mes amis, vous avez fait un bon choix. En entrant dans...
 
La Direction de la conservation et de la protection (C&P) est...
 
Conservation and Protection (C&P) is the enforcement arm of Fisheries and...
 
When the National Managers’ Community gathers in Montreal in March for...
 
When someone I meet for the first time asks me the...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
In this issue of Canadian Government Executive, our lead story is...

Member Login

Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.