Meet Ian, The reproduction is a copy of the version available at https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/acrtc/organ.htm#presidentBio. The reproduction is not  an official version of the materials reproduced, nor has it been made, in affiliation with or with the endorsement of the CRTC.

Meet Ian, The reproduction is a copy of the version available at https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/acrtc/organ.htm#presidentBio. The reproduction is not an official version of the materials reproduced, nor has it been made, in affiliation with or with the endorsement of the CRTC.

News

This is Who the Canadian Government Wants to Regulate the Internet

The CRTC yesterday released its wholesale Internet rates decision, shocking the industry and consumer groups by reversing its 2019 ruling and virtually guaranteeing increased costs for consumers and less competition for Internet services. Indeed, within hours, TekSavvy, one of the largest independent providers, announced that it was withdrawing from the forthcoming spectrum auction and would no longer offer mobile services. In other words, the competitive and consumer cost reverberations from the decision will impact both broadband and wireless services. When the increased costs coming from Bill C-10 for Internet services are added to the equation, the Internet could get a lot more expensive in Canada.

Much of the blame rests with the government as it appointed CRTC Chair Ian Scott, who has presided over a dismantling of a pro-consumer, pro-innovative policy approach. Moreover, the former ISED Minister Navdeep Bains opened the door to this decision last summer by inviting the CRTC to re-examine the 2019 decision and current ISI Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is seemingly completely uninterested in his own department’s digital files. I’ve written that this government has become the most anti-Internet government in Canadian history and the path that led to yesterday’s decision vaults to near the top of the evidence list.

The wholesale Internet process is remarkable for its incompetence. The CRTC simply decided that “completing a fulsome revision of all the cost studies would prolong the period of regulatory and market uncertainty” so why bother. Competitors reduced prices in response to the 2019 CRTC decision (which Scott now says they should have known were not final) only to have the Commission find substantial doubt with 12 of its own previous findings. That is an astonishing level of fundamental disagreement with a decision issued by Scott himself less than two years ago.

The CRTC’s lack of competence and dismissal of competitive concerns combined with the government’s willingness to vest the future of Internet regulation in its hands creates perhaps the greatest threat arising from Bill C-10. That bill is notable both for how little guidance and how much power the government provides to the Commission. When MPs and concerned citizens raise fears of the Bill C-10 risks to freedom of expression and net neutrality, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has often responded that Canadians can trust the CRTC.

After this most recent decision, that assurance is just not credible. This is the same CRTC that under this chair:

  • rejected a public inquiry into misleading telecom sales tactics, arguing “Canadians already have a variety of options available to them to seek redress depending on the nature of the issue.” The government ordered the Commission to examine the issue.
  • announced plans to create a Consumer Internet Code only to have consumer groups boycott the entire proceeding.
  • released the Harnessing Change report that called for extensive Internet regulation including new mandated fees on all Internet and wireless services to support the creation of Canadian content. In other words, it supported higher costs for Internet access.
  • called for new regulatory powers to regulate online service providers including discoverability requirements. The words Charter, freedom of expression, or free speech did not appear in the submission.
  • while acknowledging that “for wireless in Canada .. If you’re asking me if rates are too high, the answer is yes”, refused to require wireless competition because doing so would require “careful and ongoing regulatory assistance” involved in operating a wholesale regime. That decision is already a failure with TekSavvy now saying it will not enter the market.
  • called the prospect of increased prices from yesterday’s decision a “false narrative”, adding “Why would it go up? I’m not buying this – not as a result of the establishment of these rates.” Within hours, competitors said prices would be going up.

The consumer perspective is seemingly viewed as irrelevant under the current Scott-led CRTC administration with little concern for the costs of Internet services (wireless, broadband, and streaming). Further, the Commission isn’t even willing to do the hard work, suggesting fulsome cost reviews take time and could lead to market uncertainty.

This is the CRTC that Guilbeault and the government suggest in Bill C-10 that Canadians can trust with the most extensive Internet regulations in Canadian history with implications for freedom of expression, net neutrality, online competition, and consumer costs. Is there any reason for Canadians to trust that their online speech will be safeguarded? For Internet services to expect anything other than years of hearings and expensive, uncertain regulatory processes that make them think twice about entering the Canadian market? For Canadian creator groups to think that they are going to see a dime in new money from Bill C-10 before the end of the decade?

As Maya Angelou said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

30 Comments

  1. Given the track record of the CRTC and this government what will they do after Bill C 10? Possibilities include:

    Mandatory subscriptions and/or Fund Fees – it would be quite easy for the CRTC to order ISPs and cell phone providers to add charges to a users bill for Newsworld or to fund a government directed fund for the defense of Canadian news outlets

    Regulate video calling services like Zoom or require them to pay fees to support Bell, Rogers and Telus.

    Regulate the operating systems of streaming devices (Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Tizen, Web OS). This could include:
    1) Imposing discoverability requirements for Canadian content and apps.
    2) Banning VPN apps from the app stores.
    3) Mandatory bloatware – devices would come with Canadian apps installed that users could not delete
    4) Mandatory tracking and reporting to the CRTC of users viewing habits.
    5) Mandating Canadian apps as the default viewing apps for shows available on a Canadian app and a foreign app.

    Mandate variable discoverability requirements. The amount of recommended Canadian content each app would have to show would be based on how much Canadian content each viewer watched. The less Canadian content you watch the more recommendations you’d get.

    • deebee sright says:

      Some of these measures would be necessary for the new laws to be enforceable. Users will find ways to access content regardless of what companies do, so users will have to be targeted directly.

      Non-compliance is the only choice. We have to avoid any operating system they could take control of. Linux, Android Open Source Project, kodi.tv…

    • Fortinbras says:

      The increased consumer costs resulting from the adoption of Bill C-10 will be very modest. See my comment: https://www.michaelgeist.ca/2021/05/the-bill-c-10-effect-why-canadian-consumers-face-a-future-of-cancon-surcharges-and-blocked-services/

      It is very difficult to know to what Michael Geist is referring when he speaks of Ian Scott’s dismantling of the CRTC’s pro-consumer, pro-innovative policy approach. Perhaps he is referring to former Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais’ foolish decision to exempt the US Super Bowl (and no other program) from the television regulations concerning simultaneous substitution. This decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, not the CRTC. Or was it Blais’ attempts to develop strategies and mechanisms to improve the discoverability and promotion of Canadian programs? Perhaps it was his pilot project to introduce an exception to the Canadian content certification project permitting a project to qualify as Canadian if only the screenwriter and lead performer are Canadian. In any case, populist appeals and “competitive concerns” are not to be found among the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.

      Neither freedom of expression, nor Internet neutrality is an issue in regard to Bill C-10. Freedom of expression is protected by Section 2(3) of the Broadcasting Act which says that “this Act shall be construed and applied in a manner that is consistent with the freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by broadcasting undertakings” and by a declaration by the Minister of Justice in regard to the changes in the Act contained in Bill C-10 (https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/pl/charter-charte/c10.html). Internet neutrality is not an issue with regard to Bill C-10 as discussed in the following analysis by law professor Pierre Trudel (https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/602186/la-neutralite-du-net-demystifiee)

      By the way, DB, the CRTC cannot order ISPs or cell phone providers to do anything in regard to broadcasting because telecommunications services are regulated pursuant to the Telecommunications Act, not the Broadcasting Act. The Commission has never monitored what individual Canadians watch on television and nothing in Bill C-10 would permit it to do so.

      • Fortinbrasisafag says:

        give your real name
        it’s obvious you have a vested interest in gaslighting for the Liberal Party

      • For some reason I’m not reassured by your claims that the costs of the Bill will be modest. The government has claimed the Bill will result in an additional $800M to $1 B being spent on Canadian content. A new study (https://mobilesyrup.com/2021/05/17/canadians-spent-2-05-billion-ott-services-2020/) estimates Canadians spent $2.05 B on streaming services in 2020. Even if you assume half of the additional spending will come from streaming services shifting spending from foreign content to Canadian content then you’re still looking at a 20-25% increase in prices to cover the additional costs.

        Furthermore, until the rules are established it is impossible to estimate the cost impact of the Bill. For example, if Netflix buys the global streaming rights to a Canadian show for $2 M ($.1 M for Canada and $1.9 M for the rest of the world) will $.1 M or $2 M count as spending on Canadian content.

        The intrusiveness and costs of the discoverability requirements cannot be estimated until the rules are known. Will the top half of the screen be reserved for Canadian content? Will the first 3 spots on each row be reserved for Canadian content? Will an ad for a Canadian show have to be played before every show? Will banner ads for Canadian content have to be shown every 5 minutes? If you search for Seinfeld will you have to scroll through Canadian content recommendations before getting to Seinfeld?

        The response from streaming companies will not be uniform. I expect they all will raise prices to consumers, but integrated companies like Disney could also raise prices on the shows ABC and Fox sell to CTV, Global and City. They could also target simultaneous substitution by required Canadian broadcasters to air shows after they have aired on American

        The government can change Acts to give the CRTC the power to monitor what Canadians watch and to give it new powers over ISPs and cell phone providers.

  2. What a travesty. Clearly neither the CRTC nor this government care about people. I don’t want to vote for someone else but what choice do I have when these are the types of decisions they make?

    If the ISPs I’m forced to choose raises rates I will be lowering my service levels to compensate.

    • and yet on cbc poll the lieberals are still at exact same poll numbers , i bet they have call lists to the same people every time ….and what about those of us that wont answer a phone or dont have one.

  3. The Conservatives will, of course, do worse if reinstalled. No matter what they promise us, they are in lockstep with the International Democrat Union-affiliated parties across the planet. Including the US Republicans.

    So we need an alternative to both parties. Seeing as we are still Canada, we do have at least two options.

    In the meantime, what to do?

    • Vote NDP in the next federal election and hope they actually hold true to what they say. I’d rather new people disappoint me than be victim to the same abusers I already knew.

      • Ivoted ForKodos says:

        The NDP would never take more regulatory power over the internet. Not unless the internet isn’t sufficiently diverse or a safe space.

        Dwight is correct, the Conservatives were the problem. Now the Liberals are the problem. Maybe we should we give the NDP a turn to be the problem?

      • The NDP will never do what they promise so it remains to see how gullible Canadians are. This will be necessary for them to be in power.

      • You must be joking. Don’t you know we’ve got 4 parties all who are the Canadian uniparty. Our only hope is the People’s Party of Canada with Max Bernier. He has the best platform for Canadians and to save this country from communism.

        • I do not and will not trust Maxime Bernier. Because he – and you – have no interest in protecting us also from fascism of any sort.

          And now, back to our discussion of C-10.

      • no to ndp they are supporting bill c-10
        no to bloc if you live in qyebec same shit
        no to lieberals that brought this

        leave sonly one party
        and i am leery of them after harper bringing a copyright law in his term.

    • The conservative track record when it comes to Net Neutrality at least has been surprisingly good. Under Harper they affirmed Net Neutrality and brought in the Notice and Notice system, a much more balanced approach to online intellectual property than the US got, for example. The conservatives now are also promising to repeal C-10 if it passes. I’m as surprised as anyone, but pretending the conservatives are ‘just as bad’ on this file was not actually born out by looking at what they did. Not that they’re ‘great’ of course.

      • Ehhh, those are two separate issues.

        The notice-and-notice system was brought in because their previous attempt at copyright reform got so much public backlash. They basically took the Martin Liberal governments copyright reform and copy and pasted it. It also sparked the infamous phone call where the Heritage Minister’s answer to everything was, “well, that’s a very technical question” before abruptly hanging up on the interviewer. It took letter writing campaigns, protests at offices, and petitions to get them to back down. They brought in that reform legislation mainly because they were sick and tired of the public backlash from something they weren’t getting anything out of.

        What’s worse is that the same copyright reform also brought in anti-circumvention laws which was basically a disaster for innovation, repair, and preservation.

        Now, fast forward to their repeal promise, this is made purely out of political opportunism. The only the Conservatives have been going along with opposition is because it actually makes them look better while the Liberals look worse. The party has been failing to get traction on anything and the Liberals shooting themselves in the foot with Bill C-10 finally gave the Conservatives something to hammer the Liberals on. If the Conservatives actually got in in the next year or two (very unlikely at this stage), this promise will easily be conveniently forgotten as they rake in lobbyist cash in the process.

        So, yeah, there is very good reason to be skeptical about the Conservatives motivation here and reason to believe both parties are just as bad (because they have proven to be in the past). The Conservative party has a LOT to prove from my perspective before they can even be remotely trustworthy and, at this point, I don’t see them being trustworthy in the slightest.

        Yes, I will take how they are making political hay out of this issue, though. I give them credit for that, but that’s about it.

      • This is actually true and I hated Harper. When it came to the CRTC, the CPC’s approach under Harper was a pretty big surprise. The chairs he named (Konrad von Finckenstein, Jean-Pierre Blais) did not come from the telecom industry and were vastly better than we had gotten prior to that.

        Granted, he was shit in other regards but on that front, it was actually pretty decent and surprising, seeing as you’d normally expect a conservative party to name telecom lobbyists. Sadly, Trudeau has their backs, it seems.

      • harper had a minority that had a ndp party that stuck up for consumers , remember jack layton the new guy doesnt give a shit cause if he did he would have forced this bill dead
        this is why i hear this noise from conservatives but i dont trust it

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  6. James HaIifax says:

    Anyone who thinks Trudeau is remoteIy interested in “Canadian Content” is a fooI. Trudeau’s onIy interest is in censoring and punishing those who criticize he and his party. Too many bIackface meme’s for Justin’s Iiking….he is going to outIaw them. Too many peopIe pointing out that Trudeau isn’t very bright; and that he is moraIIy bankrupt.
    Trudeau does not accept criticism of his character, so Iike aII petty tyrants and narcassists…he is going to do what he can to stop those he disagrees with; or those who teII the truth about his Iack of competence. That is the onIy reason he wants to censor the internet. His first instruction to the CRTC wiII be to find a reason to remove Ezra Ievant and RebeI News from the internet; foIIowed quickIy by the removaI of The Post MiIIeniaI, True North, and the Epoch times.
    CBC for everyone…aII the time, everywhere. But that is it.

    • You’ve just listed a handful of untrustworthy organizations right there. Rebel Media, Post Millennial, etc. are all Problematic.

      • Dwight Williams Eats Dog Dick says:

        They’re problematic because they endorse viewpoints you personally disagree with, which justifies removing them from the internet in your eyes.

        I hope you stick to that principle when the other side inevitably ends up back in power and wields this same knife against your tribe.

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  9. old ogre says:

    Points
    1) I have never seen a government body voluntary limit their power.
    2) It’s always advantageous to use new and/or not well defined terms to expand power.
    3) It’s always about getting more power and influence by expanding/redefining the terms of reference.
    4) Typical monopoly behaviour of which this committee is.
    5) It will always get worse until the committee has to back down, and but they have 3 powerful friends in business and one in government.
    5) No surprise the animals are in the house.

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  11. Anno Domini -1 says:

    The underlying issue is that Justin Jughashvili Jr. wants to be a dictator, just like his real dad. Manufacture one crisis after another, find internal and external enemies, introduce an enabling act. Watch for some kind of gimmick related to the next election.

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