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Red 10 by Darwin Bell CC BY-NC 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/CsR5u

The Year in Review: Top Ten Posts

Last week’s Law Bytes podcast features a look at the year in review along with some guesses at what lies ahead. Before wrapping up for the year, the next three posts will highlight the most popular posts, podcast episodes, and Substacks of the past year. Today’s post starts with the top posts, which starts with a recent look at Bill S-210 and potential age verification and site blocking on the Internet. With the exception of an examination of Bill C-27’s AI regulations, the remaining posts all involve online news and Bill C-18.

1. The Most Dangerous Canadian Internet Bill You’ve Never Heard Of Is a Step Closer to Becoming Law, December 14, 2023

2. The Lose-Lose-Lose-Lose Bill C-18 Outcome: Meta Blocking News Links on Facebook and Instagram in Canada, August 2, 2023

3. What the CRTC’s New Registration Requirements Mean for Regulating Everything from Online News Services to Podcast Providers, October 2, 2023

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December 26, 2023 7 comments News
2023 by Daniel Foster CC BY-NC 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2o1YwUX

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 189: The Year in Canadian Digital Law and Policy and What Lies Ahead in 2024

Canadian digital law and policy in 2023 was marked by so many legislative battles that you needed a scorecard to keep track: Bill C-11 on online streaming, Bill C-18 on online news, and Bill C-27 on privacy and AI were the headliners, but there were notable developments on content regulation, competition, and a digital services tax. For this final Law Bytes podcast of 2023, I go solo without a guest to talk about the most significant developments in Canadian digital policy from the past year and to think a bit about what may lie ahead in 2024.

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December 18, 2023 7 comments Podcasts
If you don't like the rules rewrite them by Duncan Cumming https://flic.kr/p/2fS1Hhe CC BY-NC 2.0

Bill C-18 is Dead, Long Live Bill C-18: Government Rewrites Online News Act With Final Regulations

The government this morning released the final Online News Act regulations, effectively gutting the law in order to convince Google to refrain from blocking news links in Canada and to fix some of the legislative mistakes that have been apparent from the start. While proponents of the law will point to the $100 million contribution from Google as evidence of success, privately most in the industry and government acknowledge the obvious: Bill C-18 was deeply flawed and a massive miscalculation that has created far more harm than good. Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge seemingly agrees as she was willing to make changes that were derided by the government throughout the legislative process. Indeed, by the time St-Onge took over the file that was a challenging salvage job, Meta’s $20 million in news deals were lost and blocked news links on Facebook and Instagram was a reality. The prospect of the same happening with Google was too much for the industry and the government since the lost deals would have been at least double that amount (many believe in the $40-50 million range) and lost news links in search would have been catastrophic.

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December 15, 2023 12 comments News
2017 Freedom of Expression Awards by Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship https://flic.kr/p/Uvmaie (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Most Dangerous Canadian Internet Bill You’ve Never Heard Of Is a Step Closer to Becoming Law

After years of battles over Bills C-11 and C-18, few Canadians will have the appetite for yet another troubling Internet bill. But given a bill that envisions government-backed censorship, mandates age verification to use search engines or social media sites, and creates a framework for court-ordered website blocking, there is a need to pay attention. Bill S-210, or the Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act, was passed by the Senate in April after Senators were reluctant to reject a bill framed as protecting children from online harm. The same scenario appears to be playing out in the House of Commons, where yesterday a majority of the House voted for the bill at second reading, sending it to the Public Safety committee for review. The bill, which is the brainchild of Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, is not a government bill. In fact, government ministers voted against it. Instead, the bill is backed by the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP with a smattering of votes from backbench Liberal MPs. Canadians can be forgiven for being confused that after months of championing Internet freedoms, raising fears of censorship, and expressing concern about CRTC overregulation of the Internet, Conservative MPs were quick to call out those who opposed the bill (the House sponsor is Conservative MP Karen Vecchio). 

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December 14, 2023 109 comments News
I think I need a Lear Jet by JoshNV CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/3eaugw

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 188: Consumers, Competition or Corporate Cash Grab? – My Bill C-11 Appearance at the CRTC

The CRTC just concluded a three week hearing on Bill C-11 with its primary focus on the prospect of mandating interim payments by Internet streaming services. The result was predictable as just about everyone made their way to Gatineau to make their case for cash. I appeared for the first time before the CRTC where argued that it should prioritize competition, consumer choice and affordability, recognizing that the emerging system brings with it risks of market exit or higher prices. This week’s Law Bytes episode goes inside the Commission hearing for my opening statement and exchanges with the panel of Commissioners.

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December 11, 2023 5 comments Podcasts