For several months a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has heard statements and testimonies from 48 witnesses representing an organization or individuals, this does not include the CRTC and government officials. At least 16 of the 48 disputed government claims about its effect or raise concerns about the regulation of user generated content, that would be your social media posts for example of facebook, youtube, ticktok or what ever the sharing space is you use.
One third of the witnesses, which included creators, consumer groups, independent experts, Internet platforms, and industry associations went largely ignored the Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs during the proposed amendments in Bill C-11.
On June 17, 2022 during the House of Commons discussion about the Online Streaming Act also known as Bill C-11, Liberal MP Tim Louis completely dismissed all the critics of Bill C-11 loosely labeling it as so-called “misinformation”. Tim Louis is on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and attended hours of testimony proceeded in the House of Commons saying:
“We have heard a lot of misinformation. My colleague just mentioned previously that a lot of emails have come in with a lot of confusion and misinformation, and I believe that is deliberate. I was going to address two of the issues that we might be hearing some of the most misinformation about in the Online Streaming Act. First is the fact that user-generated content is excluded. People ask where that is in the legislation. The bill explicitly excludes all user-generated content in social media platforms and streaming services. I will read the subsection. Subsection 2.1 of Bill C-11 states:”
“A person who uses a social media service to upload programs for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service – and who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them – does not, by the fact of that use, carry on a broadcasting undertaking for the purposes of this Act.
In plain language, that means that users, even digital-first creators with millions of subscribers, are not broadcasters and therefore they will not face any obligations under the act. Any suggestions otherwise are simply untrue”
Liberal MP Tim Louis is the same MP that was in the committee meeting and heard CRTC Chair Ian Scott tell tell everyone an oh so much different story.
This is the same MP who has heard CRTC Chair Ian Scott tell his committee:
[Section] 4.2 allows the CRTC to prescribe by regulation user uploaded content subject to very explicit criteria. That is also in the Act.
However the fact remains, Louis was asked specifically about Section 4.2:
Marty Morantz: “Mr. Speaker, I recognize that proposed subsection 2.1 provides clarity to some extent with user-generated content, but proposed section 4.2 clearly says that user-generated content or programs that generate revenue can be regulated. I am wondering if the member would at least acknowledge that this act would in fact allow for the regulation of user-generated content that generates revenue? “
Tim Louis: “Right now the digital creators are still protected. Proposed section 4.2 does not say that they would be scoped in.” Liberal MP Tim Louis said
Yes, Tim Louis is correct it doesn’t specifically say user content would be scoped in but it also doesn’t say they will not be scoped in. There is no 100% assurance user content will not get scoped in at any point with the way it is vaguely worded and has generated heavy criticism is circulating online.
University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist is one of the experts that gave testimony raising concerns about user content. In response to Liberal MP Tim Louis claims of the concerns being “misinformation” Michael Geist released a statement: “The effort to conflate regulation of users with regulating their content has been ongoing for months. It has been misleading for months. But the government enters a danger zone when it labels the concerns raised by one-third of the witnesses before committee as “misinformation.” It is not and the risks associated with the label within political debate are enormous. There are members of the government’s online harms panel calling for new regulations on “misleading political communications”. When government MPs call the majority of expert testimony and analysis – corroborated by its own regulator – misinformation, it creates risks to freedom of expression that cannot be ignored.” he wrote
While Bill C-11 has bypassed democratic norms with 100 amendments proposed and voted on without debate or public disclosure because the public will never know what the changes are that took place during the amendments made while Canadians were sleeping. The government MPs are falling back to their usual over used claims that anything they disagree with is “misinformation” when talking about the overwhelming one-third of directly heard testimonies.