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Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s “Get Money from Web Giants” Internet Regulation Bill: An Unauthorized Backgrounder

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is set to introduce his “Get Money from Web Giants” Internet regulation bill on Monday (update: the bill is on the notice paper, but may be delayed until Tuesday). Based on his previous public comments, the bill is expected to grant the CRTC extensive new powers to regulate Internet-based video streaming services. In particular, expect the government to mandate payments to support Canadian content production for the streaming services and establish new “discoverability” requirements that will require online services to override user preferences by promoting Canadian content. The government is likely to issue a policy direction to the CRTC that identifies its specific priorities, but the much-discussed link licensing requirement for social media companies that Guilbeault has supported will not be part of this legislative package.

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November 1, 2020 12 comments News
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What’s Another Way Supporters of Mandated Facebook Media Payments Promote Their Position? Paid Facebook Advertising

Earlier this week, I posted on the lobbying campaign of News Media Canada, the group representing the major Canadian news media publishers, to call for the creation of a government digital media regulatory agency that would have the power to establish mandated payments for linking to news articles on social media sites, establish what content is prioritized on those sites, and potentially issue fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The report inaccurately describes the proposed Australian approach upon which it is modelled, avoids acknowledging that payments would be for links, and would open the door to hundreds of millions on tariff retaliation.

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October 29, 2020 3 comments News
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Where is Canada’s News Media Lobby Promoting Its Link Licensing Plan for Facebook? On Facebook

Last week, News Media Canada, the lobby group representing the major Canadian news media publishers, released a report calling for the creation of a government digital media regulatory agency that would have the power to establish mandated payments for linking to news articles on social media site, establish what content is prioritized on those sites, and potentially issue fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As I noted in my review of the report, it inaccurately describes the proposed Australian approach upon which it is modeled, avoids acknowledging that payments would be for links, and would open the door to hundreds of millions on tariff retaliation by the US under the USMCA.

The report was widely covered by the publishers promoting it: the National Post devoted its front page to the report, the other Postmedia papers all found time to cover the release, and the Toronto Star ran multiple articles and opinion pieces on it. In addition to the front page of some newspapers, the papers themselves posted the stories on Facebook, often multiple times. For example, the National Post front page story was posted 11 times by Postmedia papers including posts from the National Post (twice), Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, Windsor Star, London Free Press, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader-Post, and Saskatchewan StarPhoenix. The National Post also ran a story in the Financial Post on the report which posted on Facebook, a Diane Francis opinion piece on the report which it posted on Facebook, and a story on what happens when a local newspaper dies, which it posted twice on Facebook. In fact, just this morning, there is yet another op-ed in support of the report by Jerry Dias, which appears in both the National Post and Ottawa Citizen, with both immediately posting to Facebook.

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October 27, 2020 8 comments News
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The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 67: Tamir Israel on Facial Recognition Technologies at the Border

Facial recognition technologies seem likely to become an increasingly commonplace part of travel with scans for boarding passes, security clearance, customs review, and baggage pickup just some of the spots where your face could become the source of screening. Tamir Israel, staff lawyer at CIPPIC, the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa, recently completed a major study on the use of facial recognition technologies at the border. He joins me on the LawBytes podcast to discuss the current use of the technologies, how they are likely to become even more ubiquitous in the future, and the state of Canadian law to ensure appropriate safeguards and privacy protections.

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October 26, 2020 1 comment Podcasts
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Canadian News Media Lobby Group Calls for Creation of Government Digital Media Regulatory Agency

News Media Canada (NMC), the lobby group representing the major newspaper publishers in Canada, released a new report yesterday calling for the creation of a government digital media regulatory agency that would have the power to establish mandated payments for linking to news articles, establish what content is prioritized on social media sites, require companies to disclose algorithmic changes, hand over moderation control of content on news stories to the publishers, and potentially issue fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has made “get money from web giants” his top legislative priority and has expressed support for mandated licensing for links.

The report, which inaccurately describes the ill-advised Australian approach to licensing links to news articles, is notable for many of the things it does not say. For example, one could easily read the 41 page report and not realize that companies such as Google and Facebook do not publish full versions of news articles without a licence. Indeed, rather than “taking” content, links to news articles are posted by their users, which then send interested readers back to the original source. In fact, the media companies themselves are typically responsible for posting their own articles and granting a licence for their use.

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October 23, 2020 9 comments News