Bill C-11, the government’s online streaming bill, is rightly garnering increasing attention, but there is a private member’s Senate bill that should also be on the radar screen. Bill S-210, a follow-up to S-203, is a bill that purports to restrict underage access to sexually explicit material. Sponsored by Senator Miville-Dechêne, a former CBC journalist appointed to the Senate in 2018, the bill would require age verification requirements for sites (likely backed by face recognition technologies) and mandated website blocking for sites that fail to comply with the verification requirements.
Archive for February, 2022
Age Verification Requirements for Twitter or Website Blocking for Reddit?: My Appearance on Bill S-210 at the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Bill C-11’s Foundational Faults, Part One: The Nearly Unlimited Global Reach of CRTC Jurisdiction Over Internet Audio-Visual Services
My initial post on Bill C-11, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s follow-up to Bill C-10, focused on the implications for user generated content. That post – along with this week’s Law Bytes podcast – notes that despite assurances that regulating user generated content is off the table, the reality is that the bill leaves the door open to CRTC regulation. Indeed, the so-called Online Streaming Act features an exception that means everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fit within the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a “program”. While this issue will rightly garner significant attention, it is not the only fault that lies at the very foundation of the bill.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 116: Is This Podcast a Program Subject to CRTC Regulation Under Bill C-11?
The government’s Internet regulation plans were back on the agenda last week as a “what we heard report” was released on online harms and Bill C-11 – the sequel to last year’s controversial Bill C-10 – was introduced by Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. The Law Bytes podcast will devote several episodes to the bill in the coming months. For this week, however, rather than inviting a guest to discuss a bill that people are still assessing, I appear solo and walk through the bill’s provisions involving user generated content. The podcast also highlights several ongoing concerns involving the near-unlimited jurisdictional scope of the bill, the considerable uncertainty for all stakeholders, the misplaced trust in the CRTC, and the weak evidentiary case for the bill.
Time to Hit the Reset Button: Canadian Heritage Releases “What We Heard” Report on Online Harms Consultation
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez released a “What We Heard Report” on the government’s consultation on online harms earlier today. To the government’s credit, the report is remarkably candid as it does not shy away from the near-universal criticism that its plans sparked, including concerns related to freedom of expression, privacy rights, the impact of the proposal on certain marginalized groups, and compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The report provides a play-by-play of these concerns, leaving little doubt that a major reset is required. The government telegraphed a change in approach with the Rodriguez mandate letter, which explicitly stated that the online harms legislation “should be reflective of the feedback received during the recent consultations.”
Not Ready for Prime Time: Why Bill C-11 Leaves the Door Open to CRTC Regulation of User Generated Content
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez introduced the much-anticipated sequel to Bill C-10 yesterday. The minister and his department insisted that the new Bill C-11 addressed the concerns raised with Bill C-10 and that Canadians could be assured that regulating user generated content is off the table. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case. The new bill, now billed the Online Streaming Act, restores one exception but adds a new one, leaving the door open for CRTC regulation. Indeed, for all the talk that user generated content is out, the truth is that everything from podcasts to TikTok videos fit neatly into the new exception that gives the CRTC the power to regulate such content as a “program”.