Everyone knows that we live in a time of rapid technology change. This is especially true in communication technologies as the mobile revolution has built a whole new way to attack many activities.
- Think of the impact that Uber is having on the taxi industry and even public transportation systems.
- Think of the impact that services like Netflix, Crave and Shomi have had and continue to have on the movie industry. The movie rental business has almost been wiped out by these online services. They impact how network TV is consumed as well.
- Think of how streamed services like You Tube and iTunes have impacted the music industry and movie distribution. You Tube has made it possible for people and businesses to self publish and distribute their point of view much more readily and to a broader market than ever before.
- Think about how you can adapt your iPhone, iPad or Android mobile device by downloading an app to address specific tools you may desire.
- Think about the conflict between Apple and the FBI over access to the data on a cell phone.
Each of these examples has changed the way that we deal with information, communication and interaction.
Now think about how governments are challenged to deal with the legislation and regulations which govern the way many of these things are dealt with in a public forum.
The conflicts between the regulated taxi industry and Uber are well documented in many cities as the new delivery method is confronted by the old one.
The same is true of the CRTC's decisions around streaming services and whether they need regulation or restriction in Canada due to impacts on the public airwaves which are the more traditional process. Of course it is mainly our cable and telecommunications companies who control the wholesale Internet business in Canada so by regulating them (as has been traditionally done) the CRTC can impact how the new services are delivered to some extent.
The challenges to copyright legislation due to the You Tube and other streamed music and video services are well known. How they will be finalized and resolved is a more problematic issue and one which many governments in many countries are struggling with.
App development is now a process which many businesses require to be able to compete. Figuring out how to get consumers to load your app to build better brand loyalty is a strategy that many marketing departments are struggling with. Of course the app provided must also provide good functionality otherwise people simply uninstall them and move on to a competitive solution.
There is some concern expressed about how governments deal with security on electronic tools like cell phones and tablets. The FBI and Apple case regarding cracking a cell phone recovered from a 'terrorist' is a classic case of how the public need in a single case can run in conflict with a broader public need for security of private data. The fact that a preeminent law enforcement agency used its resources to break the security of the cell phone raises serious questions, while we all may be sympathetic to the need for access to the information. The implications of this case cross international boundaries.
By its nature government is slow to react to significant change brought about by these kinds of technologies. In many ways this is a good thing as the slower response is better able to see if the technology swing is long lasting as opposed to a short term blip on the market.
This avoids government legislation and regulation being enacted, then withdrawn only to be reintroduced after some other market change. A constantly changing short term regulatory framework can create havoc in the market and confuse consumers and businesses alike.
On the other hand there are times when legislative intervention is needed to help to curtail negative actions in the market. An example to think of is CASL, the Canadian Anti Spam framework which is still taking its place in regular practice. Developing a way to discourage the unscrupulous use of email and text messaging, flooding the user base, while protecting the legitimate use of these tools has been a challenge. One thing that most will agree on however, is that there was a need to address the excesses of the use of these tools to protect the ability for everyone to be able to use them for appropriate communication.
Governments are going to continue to be challenged to address issues in such a dynamic field as technology development. Thoughtful understanding of how new methods will affect us all is a necessity to guide our own and our governments responses.