🏛️ a very R2R policy agenda
regs to riches 2021
This is a year in review of sorts - a collection of the policy ideas put forward in R2R in 2021.
This year we looked at the proprietary lasso of loyalty programs, academic capture, thought a lot about Loblaw, sometimes Shopify, went buck wild on competition issues and lost my mind that we didn’t have more off-the shelf rapid tests. I also did totally chill stuff, like reporting PC Health to the Competition Bureau for false advertising.
*Soon I want to write about Jazzercize.
🕊️ Thanks for reading.
Consider App reviews as part of the procurement process (pay what?).
Bring health tech players under the Broader Public Services Accountability Act (vaccinations as customer acquisition)
Regulate algorithmically mediated work (holding algorithms to account, on the clock)
Support workers as they navigate employment contracts with surveillance creep
Consider public platforms for publicly regulated work (Algorithms are increasingly treating workers like robots. Canada needs policy to protect them).
Regulate BNPL fintech tools (paying later)
Maintain transparent competition with private label products (pharmacies as platforms)
consumer protection + competition policy
Commit to a comprehensive review of the Competition Act (competition acting)
Ban voice profiling technology (poor unfortunate souls)
Consider alternate data sources in policymaking: like Freshbooks, GoFundMe
Consider GoFundMe an indicator of need and gaps (super social safety nets)
Work closely with researchers and innovators re: cultured meat (meat me in the future)
How telecom competition works (or doesn’t)
Know your product (banks being sneaky and self-preferencing)
Sunk costs (should Big Tech fund broadband?)
Trojan horses (require think tanks to disclose in the same way Instagram influencers need to, my god!)
Oversharing (create better linkages between the privacy and competition Commissioners)
For real (estate)?
PS. Yes, I want to be on the federal Digital Policy Task Force, please.
Many of the posts have been about looking at patterns and basic translation to a Canadian context. I’m personally interested in how “big tech” patterns or norms play out via firms in our backyard and whether we have the guts (or time) to look at companies that are Canadian. It’s (too?) easy to “other” and over-focus on Big Tech - and those firms are just as deserving of our scrutiny and critique.
Like GoodGood - the press coverage touted the local-ness and details about the founders. No one asked about the mysterious, invisible people that will (presumably?) be making those deliveries. We know better, and we can do better.
In my “real” life, I welcomed students to the MPP program that I helped to design and now run. I taught two courses, one at the University of Toronto and another at McMaster (a fourth year undergraduate seminar in the Arts & Science Program). I supervise some of the research projects that my students undertake, which is a ton of fun. I wrote research proposals and struck out, but there will be other opportunities.
I pitched and then produced and hosted a series in partnership with the Toronto Public Library. The topics were:
Watching, Listening, and Learning: Feeding the Marketing Algorithms
Predict + Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing
I also hosted a session for the Vancouver Public Library with Ethan Lou about his book, Once a Bitcoin Miner, which you can watch here.
I also hosted three podcasts for the Public Policy Forum:
Our paper for McGill on the State of Competition Policy in Canada launched in April and Robin and I have been working on a new paper with the amazing Ana Qarri. I’ve written or co-authored a bunch of op-eds on competition policy in Canada, and a mini-series on this newsletter. I got to testify at INDU (remarks here)!
I was also part of a panel for the province - Ontario’s Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee. You can read the final report here.
Among other policy ideas, it controversially recommends that the province recognize a third category, “dependent contractor.” This has generated a range of critique - which is healthy. This is a provocation in one province. Another province may choose a different route, and we still need to learn what the feds will do on gig work.
Workers need new rights for the digital age of work, and there are other policy instruments that we should be thinking about to get us there.
If you had a favourite post, or something you’d like to see in the newsletter in 2022, I’m all ears.
Vass Bednar is the Executive Director of McMaster University’s new Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program and a Public Policy Forum Fellow.