If the Bell coalition’s website blocking proposal was designed to garner attention, it achieved its goal as the proposal attracted thousands of individual submissions to the CRTC within days of it being posted online. The massive response is overwhelmingly negative, however, with thousands of Canadians registering their objections to the proposal. I wrote about the site blocking plan in a Globe and Mail op-ed and discussed it in an interview with CBC’s As It Happens. I will have many more posts on why the radical proposal should be rejected in the days ahead.
As of this morning, there are over 4,200 interventions on the CRTC site. To put these numbers in perspective, there were more objections to website blocking in less than a week than interventions to the CRTC’s much-promoted Let’s Talk TV consultation over several months. What makes the public response particularly noteworthy is that the submissions are not the result of an organized campaign. OpenMedia is inviting Canadians to comment through its website, but these are not its submissions (which will presumably come later in a group response). In fact, in skimming through the responses (JF Mezei helpfully pulled the first 3,800 together), it is striking how while the sentiment remains the same for the vast majority of submissions (do not approve website blocking), the individual responses are largely unique. Indeed, some submissions identify many technical, legal, and policy concerns with the proposal (for example, here, here, here, here, here).
This can be contrasted with the only organized write-in campaign that I have seen thus far, which is maintained by ACTRA. ACTRA is encouraging its members to write-in support of the plan (there are a few among the current submissions), providing full instructions in how to complete the CRTC form, including text than can be copied and pasted into the submission form. ACTRA goes so far as to tell its members to say they do not wish to appear before the commission. Interestingly, there are submissions from ACTRA members directly opposing the proposal and expressing disappointment with their organization’s position (here, here).
The current deadline for submission is March 1st, though there is an application to extend the deadline. In the meantime, Canadians concerned with the website blocking proposal can ensure that their voices are heard at the CRTC site. They can also take the time to forward their comments to their Member of Parliament and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains.