The Heritage Committee invited Jacob Glick, Canada Policy Counsel for Google Inc., to talk to them about new media issues. Glick told the MPs that Can-Con rules should not apply to the Internet:
I'm torn by this advice.
On the one hand, I understand that search algorithms determine relevance to searchers' requests using multiple criteria, including geography, so Canadian searchers are somewhat more likely to receive Canadian webpages in search results.
On the other hand, I'm skeptical of any business that claims regulation would be counter-productive in its domain. Many Wall Street firms are trying, with limited success, to make that same claim with regard to their creative financial solutions.
I'm also skeptical because it seems Google's entire business plan can be encapsulated in Benjamin Jowett's words: "Never retreat. Never explain. Just get it done and let them howl."
The case of Google Buzz is illustrative. Instead of consulting with Canada's Office of the Privacy Commissioner, or any other privacy advocates, before launching Google Buzz, Google launched first, then proposed to address privacy concerns afterward.
I guess it's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Except Google's not begging. Google is a large corporation with political leverage and a business agenda.
Canadian MPs will have to use a case-by-case approach to determine how best to accommodate the anarchy of the Wild-West Internet within the more Canadian ideal of peace, order and good government. The answer may not be regulation, but in any case the answer will never be to act according to ideological purity.
With all this in mind, perhaps we should re-examine Google's recent conflict with the government of China concerning censorship. After all, isn't Can-Con itself a kind of censorship?
We may have different emotional reactions to these stories, but emotions should not blind us to their common denominator: the conflict between a corporate agenda and a nation's sovereignty - a war with many fronts.