Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It’s election day here in Canada.  Today on the SquawkBox we talked about the impact of digital media and the web on the election campaign, both here and in the United States where they’ve got a little less than a month to go on their election.

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After a little bit of good-natured ribbing from my American friends ("what? you guys are having an election?"), we got down to business.  Topics covered included the role of Twitter, Steve Gillmor‘s Newsgang Live Podcast, Barack Obama‘s use of advertising in xBox and the iPhone, Facebook, strategic voting, and the much speculated about Conservative database projects.

Later in the call we switched to the updated Mac’s that have been released today.  Speculation about the cool new features was running strong, and it turns out that the rumour mill was mostly right.  We chatted a little about the fact that the rumoured $899 model was in fact a new monitor, rather than a new PC.  And we also dove into Microsoft‘s Apple Tax argument.

On Today’s Calliflower Conference Call: James Body, Dan York, Jeb Brilliant, Steve Madigan, Hudson Barton, Brad Jones, Carl Ford, Dameon Welch-Abernathy, Jeff Black, Thijs Shoemaker, Randall Howard, William Volk and Sergio Meinardi

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Michael Geist has been doing some amazing work on digital issues during this election campaign.

1. Earlier in the campaign, Michael released the 2008 Copyright Pledge which simply asks candidates to agree to support balanced copyright reform.  You can read the full details of the pledge on his website.  As of election day, the Green Party as an entity has agreed to the pledge, as well as 90 New Democrat and 42 Liberal candidates.  No support from the Conservatives or Bloc Quebecois.  The Bloc’s lack of support is suprising, given the way they’ve positioned themselves as the champions of culture in Quebec.

2. Michael also compiled a summary of the various parties digital platforms.  You can read that summary in today’s Toronto Star column and the various other papers where that column is syndicated. The net of it:

  • Conservatives are committing to erode individual rights with a reintroduction of their controversial copyright legislation.  On the positive side, they have pledged to do more to control spam, including insuring that consumers won’t be billed for unsolicited text messages.
  • Liberals will work to ensure everyone has broadband access.  Their position on copyright appears to be mush at this point.
  • New Democrats will focus on fair copyright legislation, and net neutrality.
  • Greens would reject copyright legislation based on digital locks, promote net neutrality by prohibiting service providers from discriminating based on content, and promote open source.

It seems the lines are drawn fairly clearly.

  • The Liberals are, unfortunately, fighting last decade’s battle.  Canada already has very near universal access to broadband networks, and rural telco’s seem to be doing an excellent job at completing access for those few that are currently outside the broadband footprint.
  • The NDP and the Greens are both offering progressive digital policies.
  • The Conservatives are selling-out Canadian consumers to Hollywood interests.

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