This is a newsletter about regulatory hacking featuring (mostly) Canadian startups.
Because all start-ups need a regulatory strategy to succeed.
💸do we need this?
surveillance "solutions"for restaurants 🤷
scooting the issue:
the City of Toronto + micro-mobility
tech inquiry -
TFW you bought the wrong satellites
Quebec's new-ish privacy legislation
: books I have been enjoying > newsletter 🎶
*I am sub-tweeting myself, tho.
👀 surveillance at restaurants 🍽️
Let’s take a quick look at Ottawa-based SOLINK.
Now, I am not familiar with the existing systems that restaurants use. But my heart sank watching their promotional video.
My takeaway was that restaurant management has, like, no trust in employees.
"Incidents," what does that mean? As a prospective diner I didn't feel that the technology would add value for me, or that even I'd be aware that people are recording footage of me stuffing my face with tacos (which, let's be honest, isn't great for anyone).
More seriously: it was good to think that employees might feel they are protected - but from what? Fraud. That's (potentially) useful. But I wonder if it could also be used...to give people bonuses/identify awesome workers? Will it be used for contact tracing? Or just - creepiness? Do you care about the creep of this kind of tech, or does it seem inevitable?
At the end of June, the venture capital arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) led a $23M (USD) round into Solink Corp.
Solink integrates existing security cameras with business data such as points of sale and inventory. It uses artificial intelligence to identify trends and flag suspicious behaviour proactively to clients.
If it’s flagging “suspicious” behaviour it should flag itself HEYO!
🛴 scooters in Toronto 🛵
ICYMI - No scooters right now. SEE: E-Scooters - a Vision Zero Road Safety Approach.
On January 1st of this year, new Provincial regulations came into effect that allow Ontario municipalities to opt-in to a five-year scooter pilot project (subject to conditions). This requires revising municipal by-laws to identify where e-scooters would be allowed to be used. Key pilot rules for e-scooter riders include:
Minimum operation age of 16;
Maximum travel speed of 24 km/hour;
Mandatory riding in bike lanes where available;
Helmets required if the rider is under 18 years old.
While I can’t call myself a scooter enthusiast, it’s worth pointing to the novelty of this approach. Rather than letting the market decide, we’re letting the municipality evaluate the risk. Instead of the standard/implicit regulatory entrepreneurship model, we are seeing a different approach with many municipalities and scooters.
Is this a sign that the companies themselves are more responsible innovators, or just that scooters are small enough to impound, simply making it difficult to grow in a grey zone?
Regardless, the City of Toronto has introduced a prudent, modest delay as they work through some smaller aspects of an eventual scooter pilot. All I will say is that we can’t (or, shouldn’t) legislate for outliers.
I recently learned about the US-based “Tech Inquiry,” which is entirely grassroots led and funded. The initiative seeks to combat abuses in the tech industry through coupling concerned tech workers with relevant members of civil society.
They recently launched an alpha version of an explorer to entities and awards associated with US federal contracts listed on the U.S. Federal Procurement Database System. Lobbying filings are also retrieved, somewhat daily, from the Office of Public Records.
🇨🇦Procurement data is available in Canada via Public Works and Government Services Canada. You can do an advanced search of the Registry of Lobbyists via the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada. But (!) federally, we don’t compel all records of lobbying activity - someone/a firm needs to spend 20% or more of their time (basically 1 business day/week) engaged in lobbying behaviour. It’s easy to not meet that threshold, making a lot (too much!) of federal lobbying invisible.
Anyways, cool tool + much inspo.
🛰️ space policy
Space, meet procurement. You know that feeling when you buy the wrong satellites?
2020 in a nutshell:
The UK government’s plan to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in a satellite broadband company has been described as “nonsensical” by experts, who say the company doesn’t even make the right type of satellite the country needs after Brexit.
*The article is notable for the designation of “space policy expert” See? I told you it was a discipline. 😉
⚜️legislative pages: Quebec
Once again, Quebec is quick out the gate with leading legislation (Bill 150, anyone?). It seems they are taking the lead with personal information (“the most punitive privacy laws in Canada”), potentially pre-empting the long-awaited PIPEDA modernization. Bill 64 has been referred to the consultation stage, and wouldn’t come into effect until one year after the date of it’f assent.
What you need to know (from Tory’s) 👇
Bill 64 introduces:
European-style privacy obligations for both the public and private sector. The bill also proposes to regulate political parties.
A mandatory breach notification requirement in line with existing federal requirements.
Enhanced enforcement powers for the Commission d’accès à l’information, including prosecuting organizations for penal fines of up to $25 million or 4% of the organization’s worldwide turnover and imposing monetary administrative penalties of up to $10 million or 2% of the organization’s worldwide turnover.
New data subject rights, including rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling, data portability rights and the right to be forgotten.
*h/t Ellie Marshall for sharing this with me.
🌻 some summer reads
Pizza Girl (Jean Kyoung Frazier) - I had high hopes for this madcap friendship.
The Lightness (Emily Temple) - levitation cult summer camp w/ your GFs.
Friends and Strangers (J. Courtney Sullivan) - a delicate dance around life stage and privilege. Made me wonder if I’m more like the mom or the babysitter and who I WANT to be.
The Companions (Katie M. Flynn) - uploading consciousness sci-fi + satisfying little vendettas.
The Sea Wife (Amity Gaige) - sailing around the elephants in your marriage w/ a sexy scowl, ahoy!
The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett) - twin Black girls are separated and one lives passing as white - a 2020 must-read.
Utopia Avenue (David Mitchell) - work with others that are not like you, it will be better.
The End of October (Lawrence Wright) - guilty pleasure thriller w/ big type, you’ll unlock your inner suburban dad.
The Pull of the Stars (Emma Donoghue) - instead of doomscrolling, choose a romance during the 1918 pandemic.
🎶 tune: doug hream blunt - gentle persuasion
Girl somebody's watchin when you're walkin down the street
When you move your butt and then it skips to the beat
I got feeling in mind, like New York time
And you move your butt it makes my Benz break down
Vass Bednar writes “regs to riches” and is a public policy solo-preneur.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her (er, me) on Twitter @VassB.
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