I killed the Telecom Update

Kirsten Smith My Blog Leave a Comment

At least I’m pretty sure I’m responsible for the demise of the Telecom Update. I wonder if that guy in the Telecommunications Policy unit of Innovation Science and Education Canada who wrote the report every few weeks is grateful or pissed at me?

Here’s an example of the Telecom Update (and thanks to my web guy at Pivot Point Solutions for the tech help this week)

June Telecomupdate by digitalsmith on Scribd


One of my niche skills as an information entrepreneur is making Access to Information requests (That’s the Canadian federal equivalent to Freedom of Information requests) for a variety of clients. By doing so I give them a bit of anonymity and improve the chances of actually getting useful information from the painful ATI process.

One client orders lists of briefing notes prepared for the minister and deputy minister for several departments every month. The joy of these lists is you can scan and then submit more ATI requests for only the briefing notes you’re interested it. For years journalists have used this method to mine for story ideas. Here are a couple of examples: a briefing note about tax charity rules and one about fake news and hybrid warfare.

A client spotted the Telecom Update in the list of briefing notes last year and found it so useful I was tasked with ordering the Update every month.¬†At first there were long extensions required as the Updates were combed for redactions. ISED regularly missed the extended deadlines so I complained to the Information Commissioner about delays. A few months ago the Telecom Updates began appearing in my inbox within the 30 day deadline to respond to an ATI request. This was an exciting development – or was it? Had ISED created a system to review the Telecom Update faster or did they just decide to alter the content so the long reviews were unnecessary? (What? Me cynical?) I compared the new editions to older ones and couldn’t see any difference but I warned my client, with the subject knowledge, to be vigilant.

Then suddenly this month.

Why? Was the Update suddenly no longer of value if they had to review it and share it with me it every month? Was it because I also submitted a few complaints over the use of Section 21 exemptions. (Section 21 is a catch-all exemption that allows government to redact almost anything under the guise that it is “advice” or “consultations” with a minister or their staff.) Or, did they just rename it? By happy coincidence, the list of October briefing notes just arrived so I’ll be looking for a briefing note called the “Telecom Review” or “Industry Update”.


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