By Marie-Danielle Smith in Ottawa
Online streaming giants YouTube and TikTok are asking Canadian senators to take a sober second look at an online streaming bill that they say would cause significant harm to Canadian digital creators.
TikTok executive Steve de Eyre said in a Senate committee meeting on Wednesday evening that the federal Liberals’ Bill C-11 doesn’t just fail to protect digital creators from regulation, but makes them collateral damage.
He said the Senate should more explicitly exclude user-generated content from the bill, which was designed to modernize Canadian broadcasting legislation and bring online streaming platforms into the fold.
Senators should also consider rules around how Canadian content is identified, he said, saying much of the content that Canadians create on TikTok wouldn’t qualify as such.
The onus could end up on users to prove how Canadian they are, meaning that “established media voices and cultural voices” with more resources could end up at the front of the line, said de Eyre, who is the company’s director of public policy and government affairs in Canada.
YouTube executive Jeanette Patell told senators that the bill gives far too much discretion to Canada’s broadcasting regulators to make demands around user-generated content.
She said the provision that the regulator can consider whether someone has directly or indirectly generated revenue from the content would affect “effectively everything” on the platform.
“This is a global precedent,” said Patell, who is YouTube’s head of government affairs and public policy.
She warned that if other countries follow suit, Canadian creators, for whom 90 per cent of YouTube views come from outside the country, will have a harder time getting noticed.
“There’s nothing like this in the world for open platforms. It really puts the international audiences of creators at risk.”
Patell also warned that the regulator could require changes to the company’s algorithms, echoing concerns that music streaming giant Spotify raised during a hearing last week.
That fear is based on committee testimony from Ian Scott, the chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
Scott told senators in June that the regulator could ask platforms such as YouTube to “manipulate” their algorithms to produce particular outcomes.
At a meeting last week, Spotify’s head of artist and label partnerships for Canada, Nathan Wiszniak, said that affecting the way the platform generates recommendations for individual listeners would go against its raison d’être and could create negative feedback for the songs that are being recommended.
“Asking services to repeatedly bias recommendations against listener preferences strikes at the core trust we have built with our customers,” he said.
Some Quebec senators pushed back on the idea that requiring an algorithm to nudge users towards Canadian content is such a bad thing.
Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne said that the bill requires companies to choose the means to make Canadian artists discoverable.
“Do you have means other than an algorithm to promote Canadian content?” she asked Patell in English. “Why are you afraid?”
Sen. René Cormier, for his part, noticed during his own use of YouTube that the algorithm was recommending anglophone music to listen to after Quebec artist Ariane Moffatt, whom he repeatedly name-dropped.
“I’m trying to understand why you can’t continue with the same type of music that I’m already listening to,” he said in French. “Why am I led elsewhere in the recommendations?”
Patell said YouTube is about “You,” and that its users train the algorithm to serve their needs — so she recommended that Cormier “teach” the platform what he’s looking for. When Canadians come looking for Canadian content, she said, “we absolutely want to serve that to them.”
Though de Eyre said that TikTok is “democratizing discoverability,” Bernadette Clement, a senator from Ontario, pointed out that “it’s not democratic if people don’t know how algorithms work.”
Patell and de Eyre responded by saying that their companies are making their source code and raw data available to researchers.
The streaming companies are recommending specific tweaks to the language of the bill that they say would assuage their concerns.
In June, before Parliament’s summer break, the House of Commons passed Bill C-11 with more than 150 amendments. The Senate decided not to rush its passage and instead to take a more thorough look this fall.
If senators decide to amend the bill, it would have to be sent back to the House of Commons for approval before it can become law.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2022.
3 physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three scientists jointly won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work on quantum information science that has significant applications, for example in the field of encryption.
Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger were cited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for discovering the way that unseen particles, such as photons or tiny bits of matter, can be linked, or “entangled,” with each other even when they are separated by large distances.
“Being a little bit entangled is sort of like being a little bit pregnant. The effect grows on you,” Clauser said in a Tuesday morning phone interview with The Associated Press.
It all goes back to a feature of the universe that even baffled Albert Einstein and connects matter and light in a tangled, chaotic way.
Clauser, 79, was awarded his prize for a 1972 experiment that helped settle a famous debate about quantum mechanics between Einstein and famed physicist Niels Bohr. Einstein described “a spooky action at a distance” that he thought would eventually be disproved.
“I was betting on Einstein,” Clauser said. “But unfortunately I was wrong and Einstein was wrong and Bohr was right.”
Clauser said his work on quantum mechanics shows that you can’t confine information to a closed volume, “like a little box that sits on your desk” — though even he can’t say why.
“Most people would assume that nature is made out of stuff distributed throughout space and time,” Clauser said. “And that appears not to be the case.”
Quantum entanglement “has to do with taking these two photons and then measuring one over here and knowing immediately something about the other one over here,” said David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. “And if we have this property of entanglement between the two photons, we can establish a common information between two different observers of these quantum objects. And this allows us to do things like secret communication, in ways which weren’t possible to do before.”
That’s why quantum information is not an esoteric thought experiment, said Eva Olsson, a member of the Nobel committee. She called it a “vibrant and developing field.”
“It has broad and potential implications in areas such as secure information transfer, quantum computing and sensing technology,” Olsson said. “Its predictions have opened doors to another world, and it has also shaken the very foundations of how we interpret measurements.”
Everything in the universe could be entangled but “usually the entanglement just kind of washes off. It’s so chaotic and random that when you look at it … we don’t see anything,” said Harvard professor Subir Sachdev, who has worked on experiments that look at quantum entangled material consisting of up to 200 atoms. But sometimes scientists can unsnarl just enough to make sense and be useful in everything from encryption to superconductors, he said.
Speaking by phone to a news conference after the announcement, Zeilinger said he was “still kind of shocked” at hearing he had received the award.
“But it’s a very positive shock,” said Zeilinger, 77, who is based at the University of Vienna.
Clauser, Aspect, and Zeilinger have figured in Nobel speculation for more than a decade. In 2010 they won the Wolf Prize in Israel, seen as a possible precursor to the Nobel.
While physicists often tackle problems that appear at first glance to be far removed from everyday concerns — tiny particles and the vast mysteries of space and time — their research provides the foundations for many practical applications of science.
The Nobel committee said Clauser developed quantum theories first put forward in the 1960s into a practical experiment. Aspect, 75, was able to close a loophole in those theories, while Zeilinger demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation that effectively allows information to be transmitted over distances.
“Using entanglement you can transfer all the information which is carried by an object over to some other place where the object is, so to speak, reconstituted,” said Zeilinger. He added that this only works for tiny particles.
“It is not like in the Star Trek films (where one is) transporting something, certainly not the person, over some distance,” he said.
When he began his research, Zeilinger said the experiments were “completely philosophical without any possible use or application.”
Since then, the laureates’ work has been used to develop the fields of quantum computers, quantum networks and secure quantum encrypted communication.
A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine Monday for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.
They continue with chemistry on Wednesday and literature on Thursday. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Oct. 10.
The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.
Jordans reported from Berlin. Seth Borenstein contributed from Kensington, Maryland, and Maddie Burakoff contributed from New York.
Follow all AP stories about the Nobel Prizes at https://apnews.com/hub/nobel-prizes
David Keyton And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
Prairie premiers, governors urge Canada, U.S. to keep border crossings open longer
Washington – Canada’s Prairie premiers and two U.S. governors want their respective countries to restore pre-pandemic operating hours at entry points along their shared land border.
The group of provincial and state leaders have written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden to argue that curtailed hours at border crossings are hurting the economy.
The letter is signed by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, as well as Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
It says travellers and businesses are being forced to go out of their way to find entry points with longer hours, driving up fuel and labour costs.
The leaders say that’s also hurting smaller border communities along the Canada-U.S. border that depend on international traffic for their economic livelihoods.
The letter does not mention that the U.S. still requires visiting foreign nationals to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a requirement Canada lifted over the weekend.
“Residents and businesses on both sides of the border have expressed concern that the reduced hours of operation will become permanent,” the letter reads.
It also argues that the supply chain problems that have persisted since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020 will only linger so long as cross-border trade and travel remains curtailed by limited hours at border crossings.
“Resuming pre-pandemic operating hours will ensure the efficient and steady flow of people and goods, which will only improve trade activity and reduce inflationary pressure on both sides of the border.”
A notice on the Canada Border Services Agency website warns of limited operating hours at nearly 40 land ports of entry, mostly in the Prairie provinces, along with Quebec, New Brunswick and B.C.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2022.
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