Ottawa’s drive to regulate online content threatens your free speech, experts warn

The federal government is facing controversy over controversial changes to a bill that would bring videos and other content posted on social media sites such as YouTube under the country’s broadcast controller.

Changes to Bill C-10 – made at the behest of Liberal MPs in the traditional group – allow the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to regulate user-generated content uploaded on social media sites, which now regulates radio Content.

The government says the changes will only apply to professional content, and that successful online streaming services and applications should contribute to Canadian culture.

But critics argue that they are an unjust violation of the Charter’s guarantee of free speech.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Bill C-10?

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Gilbold introduced the Bill C-10 in November. The aim is to modernize the broadcasting law for an era in which Canadians are increasingly consuming music or movies, TV shows, videos and podcasts online or through mobile applications.

The government says its goal is to ensure that digital streaming services that enjoy growing revenue from online traffic contribute to the creation, production and promotion of Canadian content.

Unlike online sites, Canadian distributors such as Canadian broadcasters Rogers, Shaw and Bell must pay a portion of their proceeds to the Canada Media Fund, a company that funds Canadian programming. CRDC-regulated broadcasters must broadcast at least Canadian content on radio and TV.

According to Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Gilbold, the Bill C-10 is only for regulating the activities of big tech companies, not individual Canadians. (Adrian Wilde / The Canadian Press)

If passed, the Bill C-10 will subject online streaming sites operating in Canada – such as Netflix, Spotify, Grave and Amazon Prime – to the Broadcasting Act, allowing CRTC to impose similar regulations on them.

Such terms may force Canadian musicians, writers and artists to pay for supporting funds, or make Canadian content more visible on their sites.

What about those controversial amendments?

In its original form, the Bill C-10 exempted CRTC power from user-generated content posted on social media sites.

Professionally produced shows or songs streamed on Grave, Netflix, Amazon Prime or Spotify are subject to CRTC regulation, while music videos on YouTube, posts made on Facebook or podcasts uploaded to Apple podcasts are excluded – because they are privately uploaded.

Gilbold spoke of these exceptions when he introduced the bill to the House. “Our approach is consistent and we have chosen to exclude many areas from the new regime,” Gilbold told MPs. “User-generated content is not restricted.”

But the exemption for user-created content was removed last Friday by traditional team members. Another amendment approved by the panel on Monday would give CRTC the power to restrict smartphone applications as well.

Why do some people worry?

Critics say the amendments could give CRTC the power to regulate the posts that millions of Canadians upload daily on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Michael Keyst, a professor at the University of Ottawa and Canada’s head of research on cyber law, may consider those posts to be “programs” that allow the controller to set terms and conditions related to that content.

“The speech that many Canadians engage in on these sites does not require fundamental, fundamental freedom of expression, which should not be subject to any regulatory or regulatory oversight by a broadcast regulator,” Geast said.

Michael Keist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, says bringing user-generated content under the CRTC is tantamount to an attack on Canadians’ freedom of expression. (

Google, which owns YouTube, has also raised concerns about free speech.

“It extends CRTC regulation to all audio and audio visual content on the Internet,” the company said in a press release. “We are concerned about the unplanned consequences, especially of the potential implications for the explicit rights of Canadians.”

Bill C-10 is aimed at music and video content and services that handle and commission “professional series, movies and music” – not posts made by individual Canadians, said Gillbolt’s press secretary Camille Cognay-Reynolds.

“Content uploaded by private users is managed by a site, and this is considered a significant impact, and the site is subject to the Broadcasting Act and not the users,” Cognay-Reynolds wrote in an email statement.

Jerome Boyd, director general of the Association des Professionals de l edition Musical, said that despite being Canada’s most popular online music service, YouTube would have been excluded from the CRTC regulation before the latest revision. (Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

Cogne-Reynolds said protections have already been built into the law to protect freedom of expression.

Jerome Payet is the general manager of the Association des Professionals de l edition Musical, a group of French-speaking music publishers in Canada. CRDC provided a user-generated content exemption that allowed YouTube to bypass regulation – even though it was one of the most popular sites for music in Canada.

The company said the revised version of Bill C-10 would bring transparency to how Canadian content is shared on YouTube, prompting the company to report to the regulator and attend a public hearing.

“We want to have a clear picture of what’s going on on YouTube about professional content,” Bayt said. “As far as we know, we may have diagnostic activities to support Canadian music. We may also fund music.”

Can regulators control what people post on social media?

According to the federal government, Bill C-10 is not intended to moderate content posted by individual users.

“[Bill C-10] Not allowed … Government [or] CRDC should manage content, determine titles or published subjects, or impose content removal based on Canadian content requirements, “said Cognay-Reynolds.

So cat videos and sound cards of Taylor Swift songs by amateur musicians should be safe.

But the CRTC will have broader latitudes to determine how it will exercise its new powers – and there are concerns about regulatory violations.

“If they want to openly control what these sites are doing, be open about it, be short about it,” said Emily Lightla, Canada’s head of cyber security law at the University of Calgary. “But that’s not the way it is [the bill] Has been drafted. “

What about the politics of the bill?

The bill is now being reviewed by a regulation in the Heritage Committee; The next meeting is scheduled for Friday. The Liberals need the support of at least one opposition party to pass it.

The Conservative Party has called on the government to repeal the C-10 amendments to the bill.

“Conservatives support the creation of a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters, but not at the expense of Canadians’ fundamental rights and freedoms, ”said Conservative traditional critic Alan Reyes.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said he was ready to vote in favor of the bill this week.

“We will look carefully at the amendments and the bill before giving our final position,” Singh said, indicating his party’s support for curbing misinformation and hate speech on social media sites.

Black Cubacois MP says the free speech concerns raised by the Conservatives are the worst. Said Martin Sampox.

“The Conservatives must stop spreading false fears about this bill,” Sampoux said. “We must stop delaying the work of the C-10. The industry has been calling for the law to be reviewed for years.”

Sophia Harrison

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I'm Sophia Harrison working as a part-time staff at the Costco since the past year until I become as an author at the iron blade, hope I can use my experiences with the supermarkets here.

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