Bill C-11’s defenders have typically dismissed concerns about the bill and its implications for freedom of expression as misinformation. When pressed to address the actual substance in the bill, they either insist (wrongly) that the bill excludes user content or, alternatively, that even if it is in, the CRTC is bound by the Charter and requirements to safeguard freedom of expression. The claims about the exclusion of user content from the bill have been exceptionally weak as any reasonable reading of Section 4.2 leads to the conclusion that content is subject to potential CRTC regulation (for example, TikTok has concluded that all videos with music are caught). That regulation can include conditions on “the presentation of programs and programming services for selection by the public”, which means the CRTC can establish regulations on the presentation of content found on Internet platforms (the suggestion that it can’t or won’t watch millions of videos has always been a red herring since it doesn’t need to with a broadly-applicable regulation in place).
The Freedom of Expression Wake Up Call: Why the CRTC’s Radio-Canada Ruling Eviscerates the Defence of Bill C-11
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 133: Michael Nesbitt on How the Senate Pushed Back Against a Government Bill on Searching Digital Devices at the Border
It isn’t every day that a Senate committee examines legislation and makes notable changes against the wishes of the government. But that’s what happened last month as a Senate committee reviewed Bill S-7, which raised significant privacy concerns regarding the legal standard for searches of digital devices at the border. A chorus of opposition sparked by Senator Paula Simons led to changes in the bill with the Chair of the committee acknowledging “we did not have one witness except the minister and the officials say that the new standard was a good idea.”
University of Calgary law professor Michael Nesbitt, who teaches and researches in the areas of criminal and national security law, appeared before the committee to argue against the government’s proposed approach. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the bill, the change at the Senate, and what lies ahead as the bill moves to the House of Commons in the fall.
Just one week after Canadian Heritage and CRTC officials provided assurances to a Senate committee that the Commission’s regulatory powers over freedom of expression were constrained by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the CRTC yesterday released a ruling in which the majority ignored the Charter altogether in regulating content on Radio-Canada. The decision signals how Bill C-11 could be used to regulate Internet content the CRTC deems contrary to Broadcasting Act policy objectives. It also continues a disturbing trend of revelations that have come in the aftermath of Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez cutting off debate to rush the bill through the House of Commons: officials later admitting that the $1B claim of benefits is merely an “illustrative” estimate, CRTC Chair Ian Scott opening the door to indirect algorithmic regulation, and now the release of a decision on content regulation that dates back to November 2020.
The Missing Bill C-18 Charter Statement: Why Did the Justice Department Remove the Document Confirming the Online News Act Includes Payments for Internet Linking?
Last Tuesday, Justice Minister David Lametti tabled his department’s Charter statement for Bill C-18, the Online News Act. A link to the statement appeared briefly on the department’s website, but by the end of the week reference to the Bill C-18 Charter statement was removed from the Justice site altogether. As of this morning, there is still no reference to the statement, even though it is a public document having been tabled in the House of Commons. In fact, I have now obtained a copy of the Charter statement and posted it publicly here with an embed below. The department will presumably re-post the statement at some point and it would be useful to confirm that it remains unchanged and provide an explanation for the online removal (I asked and did not get a response). [UPDATE: Hours after this blog post went live, the government posted the Charter statement.]
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 132: Ryan Black on the Government’s Latest Attempt at Privacy Law Reform
Parliament is now on break for the summer, but just prior to heading out of Ottawa, the government introduced Bill C-27. The privacy reform bill that is really three bills in one: a reform of PIPEDA, a bill to create a new privacy tribunal, and an artificial intelligence regulation bill. What’s in the bill from a privacy perspective and what’s changed? Is this bill any likelier to become law than an earlier bill that failed to even advance to committee hearings? To help sort through the privacy aspects of Bill C-27, Ryan Black, a Vancouver-based partner with the law firm DLA Piper (Canada), joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss everything from changes to consent requirements to how the law will be enforced.