|«Latest ‹Forward News item: 7369 Back› Oldest»|
|Frank Clegg was the president of Microsoft Canada. Now he's leading a charge to change Canada's technology rules. (2013)|
|Canada||Created: 11 Jul 2017|
Frank Clegg wasn’t always an activist - Quite the contrary.
He spent 14 years at Microsoft Canada before retiring as president in 2005. Before that tech giant, Clegg put in a dozen years at IBM.
But in the years since, Clegg has been a driving force behind a number of not-so-corporate causes. There was Citizens for Clean Air (C4CA), the grassroots group that waged war on plans to build an Oakville power plant.
There was the proposed quarry in Melancthon that would have dug up hundreds of hectares of rich farmland to get at the limestone underneath.
Since claiming victory in both those battles, Clegg has found what would seem an unlikely new cause, given his career in the tech industry: electromagnetic radiation (EMR), the radiation emitted from technological devices.
Canadians for Safe Technology, or C4ST, is a grassroots advocacy group that wants an overhaul of federal policy on the radiation emitted from what’s now ubiquitous technology: cellphones, wi-fi, baby monitors, cell towers.
Its members have campaigned against wireless routers in schools, cell towers in residential areas and called for reviews of federal rules governing EMR, citing World Health Organization research that found the radiation to be possibly carcinogenic.
Clegg was approached by concerned residents in early 2012, he said, after some cell towers were put up on an Oakville street.
Intrigued, he began scouring research done on the topic and taking readings of radiation near the towers.
“It was just off the charts,” said Clegg. “I thought, ‘There’s something here, it’s just not right.’”
The cause had found a champion.
As the number of cell towers has exploded across the country, so has opposition to them. Municipalities have no say in where the federally regulated towers go, which has frustrated local politicians and residents. And research, including the World Health Organization’s, has, controversially, cast doubt on the long-term safety of radiofrequency emissions.
Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 lays out standards for radiofrequency emissions. Earlier this year, the federal health agency asked the Royal Society of Canada for an independent expert assessment of the policy. That process has become marred in controversy after red flags were raised about a possible conflict of interest involving the University of Ottawa professor tipped to chair the panel.
Chair Dr. Daniel Krewski resigned in July. C4ST continues to raise concerns about other members of the panel.
Clegg was born and raised in tiny Bradford, Ont., on a farm that raised cattle and later, hogs. He went to the University of Waterloo and from there, to IBM. At no stage was he an activist.
“I’d never done anything, I’d never been involved in any advocacy,” said Clegg. “It was a gradual process.”
It started some time around 2003, when Det. Sgt. Paul Gillespie, who built the child exploitation section of the Toronto police, wrote an angry email to Bill Gates about the difficulty police — trained to work the streets, not the Internet — faced tracking down online predators.
Gates ordered Microsoft Canada, of which Clegg was president, to do something about it.
The result was CETS, the Child Exploitation Tracking System, now used around the world.
“We ended up building a system to help police catch pedophiles on the Internet, so that was just an amazing, amazing opportunity to learn and contribute,” said Clegg. “It was as rewarding as any award I ever got at Microsoft.”
Clegg also got involved with CNIB, formerly the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, helping to create a digital library for people who are visually impaired. The tech executive crisscrossed the country with the organization’s then-president who was visually impaired and running an organization with more people than Microsoft.
“It just gave me a whole different perspective on, you know, as a company you can have more of an impact with people and, quite frankly in the press, by doing amazing things.”
By 2004, it was time for a break. Clegg took a sabbatical from Microsoft to travel with his wife and two daughters.
“During that time, you get a chance to think and reflect on your life,” said Clegg. By the time he got back, he knew he didn’t want to return to his former role. He tried to retire.
“I’m doing a terrible job,” said Clegg.
He’s still in the business world, working on a software startup and sitting on several company boards.
And then, of course, the community causes. To those who shake their heads at the former tech exec leading the charge for tighter rules on electromagnetic radiation, Clegg said it’s about balance.
“I’ve seen the amazing things technology can do, this incredible impact it can have on people’s lives . . . I’m all for that. I just think we need to be smart about how we deploy it,” said Clegg.
That starts with updating Canada’s standards, he said.
“We need to rewrite this whole system,” said Clegg. “I’m optimistic. We started this whole power plant battle and people said, ‘Nobody’s ever knocked out a power plant in North America. We said, ‘Well, it just needs to be done.’ I have the same optimism that if we get to the right people in government, they’ll pay attention and change it.”
|Click here to view the source article.|
|Source: The Star, Jessica McDiarmid, 02 Sep 2013|
|«Latest ‹Forward News item: 7369 Back› Oldest»|