Meta executives faced another round of criticism at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday, yet beyond the usual outrage emanating from MPs that have labelled critics as racist or dismissed online news outlets at not news, was the growing realization that the company’s plan to block news sharing in Canada if Bill C-18 passes in its current form may not be a bluff. Meta has adopted a consistent position for months that the bill creates the prospect of unlimited liability for linking to news articles, the vast majority of which are posted by the media companies themselves. Paying for those links is viewed as uneconomic and untenable by the company, which would rather exit news sharing altogether in Canada rather than cough up millions of dollars for links.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 166: Colin Bennett on How the Government Is the Using the Budget Implementation Act to Weaken the Privacy Rules for Political Parties
For the second consecutive year, the government is using the Budget Implementation Act to quietly pass concerning legislation with minimal oversight or public attention. Last year, the BIA was used to extend the term of copyright in order to comply with the USMCA. This year, it is privacy that is at issue, with provisions related to political parties. Why would the government squeeze in privacy rules on political parties in Bill C-47?
Colin Bennett, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria and a leading privacy expert, has the answer. He’s been focused on Canada’s inadequate privacy rules governing political parties for a decade and is now sounding the alarm on the bill, noting that the provisions appear to be an effort to sideline a case in British Columbia that would apply tougher provincial privacy rules to Canada’s national political parties. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain.
This Must Stop: Government and Liberal Party Go All-In On Speech Regulation With Political Truth Oversight Bodies, Mandated Press Source Tracing, and Disclosure of Critics’ Communications
Earlier today, the Liberal party convention approved (subject to a final vote) two stunning policy resolutions with enormous implications for freedom of expression. First, as discussed yesterday, it approved a resolution that seeks to “hold on-line information services accountable for the veracity of material published on their platforms and to limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.” If enacted, the policy would undermine freedom of the press and could even spark widespread censorship on Internet platforms. In addition, it passed a resolution to develop “truth in political advertising” legislation to be administered by an oversight body. There are legitimate concerns about the “truthiness” of all political parties communications, but political truth oversight bodies carries great risk and is unlikely to foster enhanced public trust.
Liberal Party Policy Proposal Would Limit Online Publication to Material “Whose Sources Can Be Traced”
The Liberal Party policy convention is underway in Ottawa with delegates preparing to debate a series of policy proposals that could ultimately make their way into their national election platforms. Party members voted on the top 20 proposals for discussion and included one involving the media and online information that seems obviously unconstitutional and a direct threat to a freedom of the press. The proposal, purportedly aimed at addressing misinformation, calls for more government funding for the media and that the government explore options to “hold on-line information services accountable for the veracity of material published on their platforms and to limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.”
About Those Bill C-11 Claims About the Risk to Cancon Without Urgent Action…
The debate over Bill C-11 was frequently marked by politician and lobby group claims that failure to act would place the future of Canadian film and television production at risk. While internal government documents admitted that claims regarding the contributions from Internet streaming services understated the actual contributions by failing to account for “unofficial Cancon”, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez was happy to feed the narrative that the bill was a critical support for an industry in jeopardy.
Profile 2022, the well-regarded annual report on the state of industry funding was released yesterday. It conclusively demonstrates that the claims on the state of Cancon production are wildly exaggerated. Indeed, the data speaks for itself: record production, record Cancon production, record French-language production. Over the past decade – as streaming services has grown in popularity, Canadian film and television production has more than doubled. The following three charts and graphics taken from the Profile 2022 report tell the story. There is no Cancon emergency and no risk to film and TV production in Canada. The Bill C-11 panic over the viability of the sector was little more than a fraudulent lobbyist-inspired talking point with little basis in reality.