TikTok did not appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of its Bill C-11 study, but one of the world’s most popular user generated content sites issued a warning that even Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez can’t ignore: if the bill becomes law, “any video on TikTok that uses music could be subject to regulation under the Broadcasting Act.” TikTok’s analysis picks up where Rodriguez left off at committee as he sought to downplay the effect of the bill on user content and dangerously equated some of the concerns with misinformation. Yet despite the persistent denials, TikTok’s submission to the committee leaves little doubt that any Canadian who uses the service to create a video with music backing will find their content caught by the bill.
Rodriguez pointed to the three criteria that the CRTC will use to establish regulations on user content. While the Minister insisted that will exclude many individuals, TikTok’s analysis concludes that the opposite is true since a video with music already meets all three criteria. In fact, the application isn’t limited to videos with music as the company notes that the use of short clips from TV shows or movies would similarly be captured by the bill.
Further, TikTok confirms that the effect of Bill C-11 would require changes to its algorithm. While Rodriguez argues that algorithms are exempt with the government focused on “outcomes”, TikTok notes that the effect is the same:
While Section 9.1(8) does restrict the CRTC from prescribing that platforms use a specific algorithm, it does not prohibit them from prescribing the outcomes that algorithm must achieve. As TikTok is primarily a recommendation platform, it is unclear how we could meaningfully comply with a discoverability requirement aside from modifying our algorithm to promote certified CanCon.
TikTok therefore joined the growing chorus of users, platforms, and associations that have all called on the government to do what it says it intends: ensure user generated content is not covered by Bill C-11. As it currently stands, to claim otherwise is the real misinformation.