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The British Columbia MP was parliamentary secretary for the cabinet role for three years. She replaces Jane Philpott, who resigned over the government’s response to the SNC-Lavalin affair. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Murray is a continuity pick, and her experience with the portfolio will be crucial on two of the most important “boring” files in government. The Treasury Board is set to pick a replacement for the beleaguered Phoenix public service pay system this spring, and must handle the backlash caused by the current software; the country’s largest public sector union wants a 3.75 per cent wage hike in ongoing contract negotiations because of its members’ pay problems. Murray will also oversee an overhaul of Canada’s regulatory system—including a key requirement that regulators assess the economic impact of new rules—that the government promised in the Fall Economic Statement in November 2018.

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Kozo Yamamoto, head of the banking systems research commission, wants the government to include a plan in its mid-year policy guidelines to create its own digital currency. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Yamamoto has significant heft in the ruling Liberal Democratic party, particularly on economic issues. He helped design Abenomics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stimulus policy. Yamamoto said he’d work to push the government with former economy minister Akira Amari, who called for a digital currency last month. China is getting closer to launching its own digital currency, and Facebook continues to work on its Libra coin, though it has lost eight prominent backers. The U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Union are also exploring digital currencies and, as The Logic reported in October 2019, the Bank of Canada is considering launching a digital coin to combat the “direct threat” of cryptocurrencies.

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Called Alicem, the program would use facial recognition technology to compare a user’s passport photo with a selfie video. It would be the only way for French citizens to create a legal digital ID that would allow them to access public services online. The nation’s independent privacy watchdog, the CNIL, has expressed strong concerns, and privacy group Quadrature du Net is challenging it in France’s highest administrative court. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: France would be the first EU nation to implement facial recognition technology for ID purposes, but it wouldn’t be the first in the world—Singapore is building a similar system for government services, and India uses iris scans. But the French government claims this program differs from those in that the biometric data would be deleted once the identification process is complete, and that it wouldn’t be integrated into national identity databases. The CNIL said the program may violate Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which guarantees EU citizens the right to consent to data collection. In April, a cybersecurity researcher broke into a government messaging app in just over an hour, raising concerns about the state’s digital security standards.

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European officials hope the currency will stymie the use of coins like Facebook’s Libra, which they see as being a risk to financial stability. The 19 countries will also impose strict regulations if Libra tries to get authorized in Europe. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Europe has tried to improve digital payments in the past, but until now those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. In 2018, the European Central Bank (ECB) launched a project called TIPS, allowing for real-time payments within the eurozone. At the time, banks greeted the initiative with caution. But the news of Libra’s development was a “wake-up call,” said ECB board member Benoît Cœuré, and has renewed efforts to popularize the project. Like Libra, the ECB’s digital currency would not require financial intermediaries like commercial banks, which would cut transaction costs. News of the plan follows similar comments Thursday from French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who said that country would not authorize Libra on European soil. Le Maire said the coin had the potential to abuse market dominance and threatened government monetary sovereignty.

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As of November, customers in the U.K., Turkey and Austria will pay between two and five per cent more to advertise on Google, as the digital sales tax comes into effect into those countries. (Financial Times, CNBC)

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Talking point: Washington, unhappy with the threat of tariffs from European countries including France, had threatened to tax champagne, cheese and other European staples in retaliation. Though it reneged on this devastating broadside, the Trump administration has since launched investigations into the countries considering a tax. The U.S. has also warned the Canadian government not to go ahead with its own digital tax. The Liberal Party outlined its plan for such a tax in its re-election platform, projecting $540 million for government coffers in 2020–2021.

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In a statement Wednesday, the home-booking platform said it supports the OECD’s proposed update to the “almost century-old” global tax-law system. “We encourage governments around the world to strongly consider adopting the rules and avoid unilateral measures,” the company said. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The OECD is working on a global framework for taxing large companies in the countries where they generate sales, regardless of where they’re physically located. Airbnb’s statement follows similar endorsements from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook. The tax would streamline what is becoming a piecemeal approach to taxing large companies’ digital sales. For Airbnb, which has had over 400 different tax agreements with governments since 2015, it could make tax policy and collection easier for hosts. The company has also resumed its IPO plans after pausing them amid pandemic-related uncertainty.

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The advocacy non-profit, founded by Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry), claims the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP are violating election law by combining voter lists—which are only meant to be used for communications—with other information, then using their database for tasks like scoring voters’ likely support in order to target their outreach efforts. The application, filed Friday, seeks a judicial review of the commissioner’s April decision not to investigate the centre’s complaint. CTV reporter Glen McGregor first tweeted it. (The Logic)

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Talking point: In September 2019, the centre lodged complaints about the three parties’ use of personal information and other data with Canada’s competition, privacy, and elections commissioners, as well as the B.C. privacy commissioner and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. The antitrust watchdog is investigating. Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien has repeatedly called for parties to be brought under privacy laws, from which they’re currently exempt.

Correction: The CDR is alleging political parties are using voter lists illegally by using them for purposes other than communication. This story has been updated.

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New Delhi has reportedly told the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) its new levy does not target any specific country. The tax is two per cent of the value of payments taken outside India for services to consumers within it, as well as e-commerce transactions and revenue from ads targeting residents. It took effect on April 1. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Google, Facebook and other firms likely to have to pay the tax have reportedly asked for it to be deferred for at least six month due to the pandemic. That would move the start date close to the end of the year, which is when the OECD hopes to have agreement from the nearly 140 governments that are negotiating a new global taxation regime for multinational firms. But many countries are moving forward with their digital-levy plans because the pandemic has hurt their economies, and therefore their tax revenues. The USTR is investigating those measures, including India’s, a process that could end with retaliatory tariffs.