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CRTC Calls for Increased Powers To Take a More “Interventionist” Approach on Internet Content

Last month, I appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to discuss Bill S-210, a bill that aims to limit minors’ access to pornography sites by implementing age verification and website blocking requirements. I warned that face recognition technologies, which are often used for age verification, raise serious privacy risks and that website blocking would have negative consequences for freedom of expression. Further, I emphasized how incredibly broadly the bill is drafted. While the Senators were focused on some well-known pornography sites, widely used sites and services such as Twitter or Reddit are also captured by the bill, raising the possibility of age verification to send a tweet or read a Reddit post.

The committee’s study of the bill continued yesterday with an appearance by Scott Hutton, the CRTC’s Chief of Consumer, Research and Communications. While Hutton emphasized there were no easy answers and that net neutrality principles would likely preclude action with respect to content regulation under the Telecommunications Act, his responses to some Senators reinforce concerns that should Bill C-11 pass, the Commission will be in the Internet content regulation business through the Broadcasting Act. Indeed, while Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and the CRTC have sought to downplay concerns that the CRTC would seek to regulate online content, Hutton told the committee the Commission needs more power in order to adopt a more interventionist approach:

With respect to the role of the ISPs themselves, yes we have considerable authority on many different fronts, but the Telecom Act and how we have to implement it and it is certainly not clear – and I’m being quite honest when I say not clear – that we can deal with content under that Act. Where we deal with content is under the Broadcasting Act and hopefully that can be modernized to take a more interventionist approach in this area.

How might the Commission intervene? Hutton seemingly embraced the possibility of age verification requirements as conditions of service for some sites:

We have limits on who we can apply our regulations to at this point in time. It is certainly looking at providing other tools such as regulation making tools that can be applied to these particular players, making sure that are subject to our Act, and being able to ask for information, do investigations, and ensure that we can put in place conditions of service, such as requiring age verification.

It is hard to overstate how dangerous it would be for the CRTC to be vested with new powers to regularly intervene in online content or consider “conditions of service” for Internet sites and services. While the government insists that Bill C-11 is designed for large streaming services with limited regulations, it would appear that the CRTC may have other ideas.

10 Comments

  1. well time to get an os like linux, and a ton a GOG.com games so i dont need ot be online anymore and stop paying and making isps money i bet when c11 and s210 go down , and this gets rolling millions will just say screw this….and then we can go get some ham radios and do what french did when occupied by nazis and just communicate diff spots kinda like wardriving used to get done via hackers in 80s and 90s

    • No they won’t, and no you won’t. Get serious if you actually want to help fight this crap.

      • i am serious
        only way to hurt them is to stop paying for our internet in millions
        and get games from gog dot com that also have NO DRM another form of censorhip and let them talk to themselves….and start a new party that is centrist or barely right of centre and pull all disgrunted moderate conservatives and liberals in

        you want serious DO IT and ive done all but the net ….ive stopped uploading content to youtube
        and the 530 subs that 90% are monetized with an average 3k subs each will be told why shortly in a last video should that get made law.

        and youtubes terms a service ar eunmanageable now
        i upped a video of me going out on my 7th floor balconey looking down at ambulance fire and police
        no one got taken to the ambulance diuring and no audio yet its taken down cause i cant show real world harm

        wtf thats the state of these liberal ideas its insane

  2. Pingback: CRTC Demands More Power from Government to Regulate Content on the Internet

  3. Sok Puppette says:

    Who actually wants all this stuff to happen? It keeps coming up over and over, but I don’t think I understand the interests behind it, other than some relatively narrow broadcasting stuff. Who in Canada has a serious interest in something like age verification?

    • The primary sources of this crap seem to be the regulators trying to justify their continued existence, and the regulated broadcasters wanting everyone else on the planet to be subject to the same rules they are.

      The justification for regulating “broadcasting” is that these operators are let use valuable public spectrum for a pittance, so the government gets to tell them what to do with it. Since the Internet has made the available number of ‘channels’ unlimited, the logical thing to do is sell off the spectrum and let broadcasters do whatever they want, and shut down the CRTC. Instead…the CRTC wants to control the Internet.

    • So youtube puts ads on non mnetized persons channel making X money and Y money according to formula
      this is hten times the rate x or 1.3% and thats YOUR FEE FOR UPLOADING TO YOUTUBE

      or elsewhere ….does youtube or creators on youtube think that this is fair or just , or is this not only slave labour BUT ALSO letting the liberal govt make money off said slave labour and making it even harder to get to a point 1K subs and 4K watch hours in a year to make a buck to have all that taken away and is said formula enough to justify youtube money as in what you get monetized + youtubes money making – lisence fee

      ya thanks LIEBERALS …NOT

      “fee revenue, in respect of a licensee of a broadcasting undertaking, means the gross revenue derived during a return year from the licensed activity of the licensee, whether received by the licensee or by an associated corporation, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes”

      associated corporation is YOUTUBE…whom puts ads on non monetized channels WITHOUT COMPENSATION and forces permission

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