Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains makes an announcement on digital and data transformation, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development David Lametti and Liberal MP Jati Sidhu look on, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Federal officials are being warned that artificial intelligence could give internet giants like Facebook and Amazon even more power to reshape the Canadian economy, threatening the viability of domestic businesses.

A December presentation to senior civil servants said that Canadian companies were losing ownership of and access to data to the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, requiring a federal policy response.

Artificial intelligence “will reinforce this trend,” presenters from the National Research Council warned top officials, adding that a national data strategy was necessary to prevent Canada from becoming “a nation of ‘data cows’ for other countries.”

The presentation, among other documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, provides a window into the scale of the problem the Liberals are trying to tackle by crafting a national data strategy, and the breadth of departments involved in its creation.

READ MORE: Was your data scraped in the Facebook scandal? Here’s how to check

The Liberals took another step towards the creation of the strategy by launching online and in-person consultations that will run through the summer, and feed into a final policy.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains wouldn’t say what might be a final strategy, or when it might be finalized.

The Canadian Press

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