Net neutrality: EU votes in favour of Internet fast lanes and slow lanes

The European parliament, voted in favour of a Internet “fast and slow lanes” in a highly flawed net neutrality text. While popular measures such as eliminating cellular roaming charges between EU countries is a positive change, the EU has voted against having a “level playing field” when it comes to Internet speeds and infrastructure – something that benefits telecom companies directly. 
On the few occasions that MEPs supporting the compromise text addressed the net neutrality rules directly, they simply parroted the claim by telecom companies that specialised services running over fast lanes were needed in order to encourage innovation in the EU. As those in favour of true net neutrality—including such luminaries as Sir Tim Berners-Lee—have emphasised, the opposite is true. For innovation to flourish as it has done so far, a level playing-field is needed. Allowing fast and slow lanes on the Internet plays into the hands of incumbents and companies with deep pockets.
For more information, see here.

Reminder: Proposals for PLG Edmonton Organize and Assemble Symposium Due November 11

ORGANIZE AND ASSEMBLE V: GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN THE INFORMATION PROFESSIONS

PLG Edmonton and PLG Calgary invite submissions for our fifth annual symposium, Organize and Assemble V, taking place on February 27, 2016. Practitioners, scholars, activists, students, and other members of the general public interested in library, archival, and allied information services are asked to speak on topics pertaining to this year’s theme: gender and sexuality and the information professions.

Gender and sexuality have dominated public discussion in both Canada and the US this past year, with devastating high profile rape and sexual harassment cases, heated battles over women’s reproductive health services and efforts to provide consent education and LGBT support groups in schools, the dubious rise of men’s rights activism, challenges to women’s safety online, and with transgender rights issues more visible than ever before – the list goes on. Looking within the information professions, it is clear that issues around providing gendered services and being gendered workers have also come to the fore. We see challenges to a public library boys-only robotics program, we hear public outcry against sexual harassment at professional conferences, and we find successful advocacy for gender neutral bathrooms at the 2015 ALA Annual conference.

PLG Edmonton and PLG Calgary are joining together for the first time to host a one-day refereed event in Edmonton that will focus on how issues of gender and sexuality are playing out across the information professions – in the services we provide, in our professional relationships and institutional structures.

In keeping with the theme, we request proposals for presentations on the following possible topics, which include but are not limited to:

  • Gendered labour (representation in unions/associations, negotiating shift work and parenting responsibilities, sexual harassment, representation in leadership, what are/should be the challenges and priorities of a feminist, pro-LGBTQ labour politics in the information professions?)
  • Sexual harassment in public service roles
  • Gender in the children’s library (gendered literacy : “getting boys to read,” programming for fathers)
  • Sex education in the library (programming, services, policies and/or outreach in school, public, academic, special libraries and government, LGBTQ and/or gender-based community archives)
  • Sex in libraries/archives (pornography, erotica, sex workers etc.)
  • Gender, sexuality and cataloguing (discovery and accessibility issues, sexual politics of subject headings, what is missing?)
  • Gender, sexuality and collections (what are we collecting? How and for who? What is missing? Readers advisory)
  • Intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class and/or colonialism in the information professions: spaces, services, collections, policies, advocacy, outreach, hiring practices
  • Gender politics in non-traditional/emerging information professions (the IT department, the tech industry, educational technology, knowledge management, digital humanities)
  • Online privacy and gender-based trolling
  • Professional conference codes of conduct
  • Gendered stereotypes and/or the sexualization of librarians and other information professionals
  • History of gendered labour in the information professions – where have we come from?What have we fought for? Where are we going? What has been limited by our history? What does our history make possible?

Please submit proposals (not to exceed 500 words) for individual and group contributions (e.g., papers, debates, round-tables, critiques, panels, posters, exhibits, manifestos, lightning talks and mini-workshops) via email to plg.edmonton [at] gmail [dot] com by midnight November 11th, 2015. Submitters will be notified of their acceptance by the end of November 2015.

The PLG supports progressive and democratic activities in the area of information services, and the Edmonton Chapter’s Program Committee will review all submissions that recognize (or challenge!) this stance and the PLG statement of purpose more broadly: http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/content/purpose.shtml

Renaming Federal Research Libraries after Harper a Fitting Tribute

Since the defeat of the Conservative government on Oct. 19, there has been extensive discussion around the government’s legacy, and particularly that of its leader, Stephen Harper. One early suggestion (facing significant opposition) is to rename the Calgary airport after Harper (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/renaming-calgary-airport-duelling-petitions-1.3291241).

While naming the airport after Harper would follow a tradition (e..g Pearson in Toronto or Trudeau in Montreal), there are far more fitting federal institutions that could and should bear Harper’s name. In particular, the remaining federal libraries would be an ideal set of institutions to name after Harper. Given the Harper government’s penchant for closing and consolidating federal libraries (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/research-library-s-closure-shows-harper-government-targets-science-at-every-turn-union-says-1.3199761) those that remain deserve a particular mark and moniker to demonstrate their ability to withstand the trend of federal library collections being moved from buildings to dumpsters. In addition, naming the federal libraries after Harper would likely serve as a means to ensure that future Conservative governments would carefully consider closing any more federal libraries as they bear the name of the former party leader. Perhaps the government could also restore the estimated 1.55 million government websites to be eliminated as part of the Treasury Board’s ROT plan (http://plgedmonton.ca/information-policies-under-the-harper-government-part-4-treasury-boards-reduce-redundant-outdated-and-trivial-rot-web-content/) under a special section of the Canada.ca website known as the “Clement Collection.”

Indeed there would seem to be no shortage of federal information services and institutions that could be renamed as fitting reminders to the dark decade.

Next PLG Meeting: November 3

Join us Tuesday November 3rd at 7pm in the RISE (Research Innovation in Education) Room in the Education North Building at the University of Alberta (Room 2-111). We will meet in the Education cafeteria on the first floor and will wait until 7:00 to head up.

Meetings last an hour. Interested information professionals, students and new members always welcome!

We hope to see you there!

Information Policies Under the Harper Government Part 5: Lawful Access to Information

Although Harper’s Government is now gone, the harmful policies it created will continue to impact Canadians as our new government takes office. The damage caused by the Conservatives’ slow and steady deterioration of Canadians’ personal privacy and freedom of expression, among many other egregious assaults to our constitutionally held rights, will take a long time to undo. 

One-Line Description: Government decries opponents of its draconian cyber surveillance legislation as supporters of child pornography,[1] then passes legislation under the guise of fighting cyber-bullying.[2]

Details: While attempts to update Canada’s surveillance legislation have been proposed several times over the past two decades, the Conservative government was especially aggressive in its approach to pass lawful access legislation. In 2012 it introduced legislation that would significantly expand police surveillance powers including the ability to get access to telecommunications subscriber information with lessened need for warrants.[3] However, while the law was being debated in Parliament, then Public Safety Minister Vic Toews suggested that Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia, who was questioning the bill, could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”[4] The backlash to Toews characterization of opponents to the bill caused the bill to be shelved, but not to be outdone the Conservatives reintroduced many provisions of the bill the next session in Bill C-13 under the guise of enhancing legislation to protect Canadians from cyberbullying. Despite the lack of need to connect legislation for addressing cyberbullying with lawful access legislation, the approach worked, and Bill C-13 received royal assent at the end of 2014.[5]   The passed legislation has the effect of reducing the threshold for obtaining a warrant from where investigators have a reasonable belief to a mere suspicion.[6]

[1] Gustavo Vieira. “Vic Toews vs. The Child Pornographers – Whose Side Are You on?” Macleans. 14 Feb. 2012. http://www.macleans.ca/general/vic-toews-vs-the-child-pornographers-whose-side-are-you-on/

[2] Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. 41st Parl., 2nd Sess. http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?billId=6301394&Language=E&Mode=1

[3] Bill C-30 Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. 41st Parl., 1st Sess. cl. 26. http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/Bills/411/Government/C-30/C-30_1/C-30_1.PDF

[4] Vic Toews. House of Commons Debates, Monday Feb 13, 2012. 41st Parl., 1st Sess. Edited Hansard Vol. 146, No. 79. http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=5380035

[5] Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. 41st Parl., 2nd Sess. http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?billId=6301394&Language=E&Mode=1

[6] Privacy Commissioner of Canada. “Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act.” https://www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2014/parl_sub_141119_e.asp

Next PLG Meeting – November 3

Please note that our regularly scheduled meeting has been postponed until Tuesday, November 3 as it conflicts with the EPL/MacEwan University Libraries’ screening of The Internet’s Own Boy on Tuesday, October 27 at 6pm at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre. We encourage all PLG Edmonton members to attend this screening, which is capping off Open Access Week!

For more information about the film screening, please visit http://plgedmonton.ca/the-internets-own-boy-film-screening

The Internet’s Own Boy Film Screening

Before his untimely death at the age of 26, Aaron Swartz made a tremendous impact on the Internet as we know it. On Tuesday, October 27 at 6pm in the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre EPL and MacEwan University Libraries will be showing The Internet’s Own Boy, which tells the story of Aaron’s life as both a computer programming prodigy and political activist.

Following the film, Dr. Michael McNally, Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, will facilitate a brief discussion.

The event will cap off Open Access Week, which is happening now. “Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

There are many Open Access events around Edmonton and around the world this year, but this film event is one of the few taking place at a public library. That a public library is co-hosting the story of the young technological savant Aaron Swartz’ activism and philosophy emphasizes that it is more than just scholars who can benefit from open access to scholarly publications.  The broader public benefits as well. Pay walls blocking the wide dissemination of academic research pose a limitation on intellectually curious and motivated members of the public who face financial or social barriers to higher education.

All are welcome and admission is free. Candy will be provided! RSVP is appreciated but not required.

Note: This event conflicts with PLG Edmonton’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting. To encourage PLG members to attend this film event en masse, the meeting has been rescheduled. Stay tuned for the new meeting time.

Preview YouTube video THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY | Official Trailer

THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY | Official Trailer

Health Canada Prey to Predatory OA Publisher Intech

The Ottawa Journal reports that Health Canada paid to publish 25 to 30 documents on food safety through predatory journal International Food Risk Analysis Journal. This journal is published by Intech Open Access of Croatia which can be found on Beall’s list of predatory publishers. The journal has recently stopped appearing on Intech’s website. For more details see the article by Sean Kilpatrick.

 
This rather complex controversy, which has not been widely reported on, highlights two pressing access to information issues: the continuing difficulty of keeping track of Canadian government documents online and the negative impact of predatory open access journals on the movement to promote open access publishing as an alternative to the big business of academic publishing.

Harper Signs on to Draconian Copyright Provisions… Tells Canadians Nothing about Them

In light of today’s announcement PLG Edmonton is re-posting an information sheet and presentation by then University of Alberta student Cari Postnokoff, originally posted in February 2014, regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

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The Trans Pacific Partnership is a trade deal currently under negotiation behind closed doors. It has the potential to profoundly affect Canadian intellectual property laws. PLG Edmonton member Cari Lynn Postnikoff has put together this information sheet on the Trans Pacific Partnership. Get informed and share it around. You can also see her presenting on the topic at the 2014 Forum for Information Professionals at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta below.

If the Info Sheet isn’t appearing, you can download it here.