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CRTC Ian Scott confirms Bill C-11 would allow the CRTC to force Internet platforms to manipulate their algorithms

Canadian Heritage officials and CRTC Chair Ian Scott appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications as part of its Bill C-11 pre-study (which is soon to become a Bill C-11 study). CRTC Chair Ian Scott told the Senate the Online Streaming Act will allow the CRTC to force websites like YouTube and TikTok to manipulate their algorithms.

The claims by Pablo Rodriguez during special committee meetings and his screaming in the house of commons that Bill C-11 doesn’t give the CRTC overreaching regulatory powers to manipulate algorithms runs contradictory to CRTC chair Ian Scotts testimony.

Yesterday June 22, 2022 Ian Scott testified in front of the Senate and explaining that Bill C-11, by proxy or indirectly the CRTC is authorized to tell internet platforms to to manipulate their algorithms.

“Oh my God, you’re going to play with algorithms.” No. It’s clearly written there that the CRTC cannot play with algorithms. Lots of things are said about the bill that have nothing to do with the bill.” Pablo said on June 6, 2022 at the special committee meeting

Scott: It’s a very complex question. You’re looking for specifics. It is always dangerous or difficult for a regulator to tell you what we will do in the future. So I need to caveat my answer with that to begin. We will hold, we will issue notices, we will gather evidence. All Canadians, all forms of stakeholders will have an opportunity to give us their best advice and then we will render decisions that are in the public interest.

Miville- Dechêne: But you must have an idea of how this can be done.

Scott: I understand the question. I’m not trying to avoid it, I just wanted to clarify that we don’t bind ourselves by saying this is what will happen because we need to rely upon and develop the record.
But your question is important and well understood. You may be familiar with a report we were asked to produce by government some four years ago. We produced a report called Harnessing Change. In it, we outlined some of the issues that are now addressed in the legislation. One of the things that we talked about are the use of incentives. Also to reflect different lines of businesses, the rapid change that takes place. A lot of that can be characterized into saying we’re focused on outcomes. You quite properly put it as saying the desired outcome is to ensure Canadians can find Canadian music or Canadian stories. I think there will be a number of ways the industry can do it.

I’ll give you a simple example. Instead of saying – and the Act precludes this – we will make changes to your algorithms as many European countries are contemplating doing – instead, we will say this is the outcome we want. We want Canadians to find Canadian music. How best to do it? How will you do it? I don’t want to manipulate your algorithm. I want you to manipulate it to produce a particular outcome. And then we will have hearings to decide what are the best ways and explore it.

CRTC chair Ian Scott’s comments confirms Pablo Rodriguez has been spewing misleading information to the committee on Bill C-11 and Canadians. Rodriguez has repeatedly denied for months the bill’s discoverability requirements won’t manipulate algorithms.

The fact Scott described one of the solutions to put “Canadian content” in front of Canadians is to tell the companies to manipulate the algorithms for the CRTC to produce what the CRTC wants to put in front of Canadians.

The CRTC isn’t directly coding the algorithm but they will have the power to tell the platforms what the want the algorithm to do which is indirectly tinkering with the algorithms and is no different than directly manipulating the algorithms.

According to Michael Geist this will have an impact to all Canadian creators and harm their online channels and risk millions in revenue.

Now there has been 100% confirmation that algorithmic manipulation is within the scope of regulatory requirements and a possible outcome of Bill C-11, we must wait until the fall hearings in the Senate for any chance of the bill being fixed, pass or to be scrapped.

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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