Bill C-11 “Online Steaming Act” more widely known as the Justin Trudeau government’s censorship law. The bill had a mostly smooth sailing through the senate with very little resistance.
So what do we currently know and does it mean for the future of the Internet in Canada?
In the final stage of votes, an alarming majority of the Senate voted in favour of Bill C-11 with 54 yeas and 16 nays and 1 Abstention.
What does this mean for the future of the Internet in Canada?
The short answer is, we have absolutely no clue.
According to the presented and now law legislation this is a completely reasonable statement from anyone that has actually read the law.
No drafts or ideas of a framework for Bill C-11 were presented in parliament, committee or in public consultations.
The new law gives the government and CRTC full control of the Internet in Canada and what Canadians can see, hear, listen and read online.
The new legislation is all about power and control and the proof is in the evidence of the Justin Trudeau government refusing to remove a highly authoritarian clause.
The government claims it’s not going after individuals on social media but rejected an amendment from the senate that would protect user-generated content uploaded by individuals on social media from government overreach and censorship.
While laws are created in parliament the senate is supposed to be the sober second thought and plays an important role in our democracy ensuring laws are constitutionally sound. However even after the government refused to give up the power to regulate individuals and rejected the amendment to add guardrails to protect user-generated content. Most of the senate still voted Yea.
How is the regulating going to work? Well that’s not too clear right now because Bill C-11 allows the CRTC to do anything and regulate the Internet more than it does television and radio.
Now the CRTC is tasked with wielding unlimited god like powers over regulating the Internet giving Canadians its words “Just trust me” as good enough to believe it won’t be overzealous with its regulations.
The law itself doesn’t specifically say censorship written in it but the way the law is worded and without the specific safeguards in place to protect user-generated content it gives the government and CRTC sweeping powers to control the Internet in Canada.
Think of Bill C-11 like an Internet Provider level mandatory government net nanny installed on your phone or computer, like the Great Firewall of China and North Korea.
As mentioned earlier, the CRTC has no clue and no drafts of what the regulation will be. What we do know though is the CRTC already announced it will whip up a regulatory framework without public consultation and “adapt our approach” in light of any future policy direction, a statement from the CRTC says on the governments website.
Without the safeguards in place how do we know the policy won’t include user-generated content? That’s where the whole censorship dispute comes in. If the government is not going to go after user-generated content why not just make it clear and write it in the law?
Now moving from the censorship argument onto a much less talked about topic, controlling what Canadians get to watch, read and listen to online.
Now because there’s absolutely no framework draft that has been made public and no consultation everyone is left to speculate. So what type of things could happen?
The goal of the bill is written in the legislation “Add online undertakings — undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet — as a distinct class of broadcasting undertakings.”
As soon as Bill C-11 became law, all online video and audio services fall under the purview of the CRTC and dictate “the proportion of programs to be broadcast that shall be Canadian programs.”
We will start with one of the more extreme examples because the former CRTC chair spilled the beans about what the bill allows the CRTC to do.
Former CRTC Chair Ian Scott described how the CRTC can dictate to “platforms” and social media companies to change their algorithm to accomplish what the CRTC wants them to put in the faces of Canadians.
“I don’t want to manipulate your algorithm. I want you to manipulate it to produce a particular outcome” Scott told the committee reviewing Bill C-11 in the senate.
We could speculate the CRTC adopts the method it uses for regulating radio and television. which requires 35% of the content being displayed to Canadians must be “Canadian”.
How would you feel with the government kicking in your house door to confiscate all your mixed tapes and CD’s to remove a bunch of “non Canadian content” and fill it with government approved “Canadian” content and give it back to you and you’re not allowed to remove the Canadian content based on a ratio.
That’s exactly what it lets the government do. It could force “platforms” and social media to limit your consumption until you consume enough “Canadian” content to resume consume “non Canadian” content.
It gives room for regulations to put government in control of your personal playlists on YouTube, Spotify etc… You could be listening to or watching a play list that you curated yourself and all of a sudden the next thing that plays on your list is something you did not add and doesn’t suit your play list or you just don’t care for it. Too bad you have to consume it because the state net nanny mandates it.
Since the government is trying to monetize its law and freeload off streaming services and social media it doesn’t make sense to expect it will block access to services. But on the other hand we could see services leave Canada or not launch in Canada to begin with.
Other bills to keep your eyes on coming down the pipes is Bill C-18, Bill C-36 and C-26.
Bill C-36 is also known as the “Online Harms Act” which aims to limit freedom of expression online. A Trojan horse law, under the guise of fighting so-called “hate speech,” “hate propaganda” and “hate crimes” to coerce Canadians to give up more freedoms and accept a world like the movie Minority Report, punished for “precrime” or so-called “thought crime.”
Justin Trudeau calls everything he disagrees with “hate,” so there could be massive unintended consequences of courts filling up with people being sued for hurt feelings.
Canada’s proposed Cyber Security law Bill C-26, which will radically expand the governments online data collection and digital surveillance with next to no accountability measures opening the doors to government spying and backdoors.
Bill C-18 “Online news Act” the government is going to take control of the media and decide which sources are “real news” sources.