Our data

Our project draws on records contained in the Canadian lobbying registry and a large corpus of government documents obtained via access to information requests. This information allows us to gain insight into the relationships between digital platforms and a number of the government agencies and departments.

The quantitative data visualized on this site is from the Canadian lobbying registry open data provided by the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada: https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/en/open-data/. We have added to this data information about access to information requests we have made about registered lobbying communications.

Where quantitative our data comes from

The Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada maintains a registry of lobbyists.  Lobbying is  defined as “payment by an employer or a client to communicate directly (in writing, orally) or indirectly (grassroots) with a federal public office holder about […] legislative proposals, bills, resolutions, regulations, policies or programs, awarding of grants, contributions or other financial benefits, awarding of contracts (consultant lobbyists only), or [in the case of consultant lobbyists only] arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person.” (Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada).

The registry contains records of communications that are both oral and arranged between  in-house and consultant lobbyists and designated public office holders. 

Oral communications encompass “telephone conversations/teleconferences,meetings, or any other verbal communication (for example, a communication that takes place over the Internet using VoIP or other modern technologies)” (Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada 2020)

Arranged communications are those communications that are arranged in advance, where a request for a communication is made and accepted before the actual communication is held (Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada 2020)

The registry covers the period from 2008 when the Lobbying Act came into force and mandatory electronic filing was introduced to the present (Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada 2020).

Our access to information requests / our library of government documents

Our team requests the records associated with registered tech lobbying communications.

To gain a deeper qualitative understanding of the subject-matter and context of platform lobbying in Canada, we request the records of (government documents relating to) lobbying communications and other interactions between platforms and the federal government.  That is, we submit access to information requests for records relating to the registered lobbying communications between our selected tech companies and any federal official covered by the Access to Information Act.  About sixty-three, or 22 percent, of our requests have returned records.  This set of access to information requests is called our “tech lobby archive.”

We also request previously completed access to information requests from all departments covered by the Access to Information Act where the original request contained relate to our set of technology companies and case studies. That is, we re-request other people’s access to information requests. This set of access to information documents (the “re-request archive”) contains records relating to both the sorts of oral and arranged communications designed to influence laws and policies that would be included in the lobbying registry, but also written communications such as email exchanges and notes pertaining to unplanned meetings.  They also encompass records of workshops held, conferences attended, and visits to company sites.  Thus, the re-request archive is both larger and broader than the tech lobby archive. 

To access our data and archives, please get in touch!