Meta has announced that will test blocking news sharing in Canada on its platforms Facebook and Instagram in response to Bill C-18’s system of mandated payments for links. Even as some have suggested the position is bluff, the company has not wavered for months as this emerged as the most likely end game. Back in October, it said it was considering blocking news and in March it confirmed it. The government now says it won’t give in to “threats” but the reality is that Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez more accurately described it last year as a “business decision” when he appeared before the Heritage committee. Given that Facebook says news is responsible for only three percent of content on user feeds and that it is highly substitutable (ie. users spend the same amount of time on the platform whether scrolling through news or other content), the business choice seems like an obvious one.
Globe Publisher Calls Bill C-18 a “Threat to the Independence of Media” As Government Senate Representative Smears Bill Critics
The Senate hearings on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, resumed yesterday with two blockbuster panels that included the Globe and Mail, News Media Canada, La Presse, Le Devoir, Canadaland, The Line, and Village Media. The unmistakable takeaway was the enormous risks the bill creates to the independence of the press, to the future of digital media, and to the bottom lines of Canadian news outlets across the country. Further, it is increasingly apparent that the government has no real answers to these risks other than sabre rattling with tech companies and questioning the motives of critics of the legislation.
The eagerness to smear anyone who dares criticize the bill provided the most jaw-dropping moment of the hearing with Senator Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate on the bill, suggesting that Bill C-18 criticism from Village Media’s Jeff Elgie, one of Canada’s most successful local digital news organizations, might be motivated by the business benefits of local media shutting down:
Extend the Deadline: My Submission to the CRTC on its Deeply Flawed Bill C-11 Consultations
The CRTC’s Bill C-11 consultations are off to a rocky start with mounting concern over short deadlines that may limit public participation and reduce the quality of the submissions. A dozen groups have asked the Commission to extend the deadlines with more groups joining in the call. The deadline for comment on the extension ended yesterday and I navigated an exceptionally difficult consultation process (more on that shortly) to submit the comments posted below. I support the extension but argue that a better approach would be to wait until the government’s policy direction process is final and there is certainty on support for public interest group participation.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 168: Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne on How to Fix Bill C-27
It has taken many months, but Bill C-27, the government’s long overdue effort at privacy reform finally is headed to committee for review. Philippe Dufresne, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has been patiently waiting for this moment, armed with a comprehensive review of the bill and a wide range of recommendations for amendments that include a more explicit framing of privacy as a fundamental right.
Dufresne was appointed as Canada’s privacy commissioner nearly one year ago and in months since has made numerous committee appearances, issued high profile findings involving companies such as Home Depot, battled Internet companies in the courts, and worked on the privacy implications of AI. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to reflect back on his first year in the position and to outline his proposals to strengthen Canada’s best shot at a modernized privacy law.
CRTC Chair Vicky Eatrides Faces Her First Big Test: Is the Commission Serious About Public Participation on Bill C-11?
Earlier this month, the CRTC issued the first three of what may become at least nine public consultations on Bill C-11. As I lamented in a post on the consultations, “with short timelines, no resources or support mechanisms for new groups and entities interested in participating, and the absence of the policy direction, this is not a serious attempt to fully engage in Canadians.” A wide range of Canadian cultural, consumer, and independent groups have now escalated the issue by formally asking the CRTC to extend its submission period to late July rather than the current June deadlines. The request, which comes from groups that have both supported and criticized Bill C-11, should be a no-brainer given the absurdly short deadlines that severely limit the ability of many groups to effectively participate in the Bill C-11 consultation process.