As the fallout from Bill C-18 continues, a coalition of Canadian media outlets – News Media Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and the CBC – have filed an application with the Competition Bureau seeking an inquiry into Meta’s decision to block news links in response to the bill’s mandated payments for links approach. There is unquestionably a need for greater competition work with respect to Internet platforms, but a case grounded in refusal to link is not the place to start. Indeed, this complaint is exceptionally weak as it misstates Bill C-18, implausibly claims that Meta has substantial control over the news industry in Canada, contradicts the government on the choices presented by its legislation, and risks creating a mandated requirement to link that could result in other sectors forcing platforms to display more contentious content.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 176: A Mid-Summer Update on Bills C-11, C-18, the Government’s Cabinet Shuffle, and the Brewing Battle over Digital Taxes
Coming off a week in which the government engineered a major cabinet overhaul that saw Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez replaced by Pascale St-Onge, an escalation of the battle over digital services taxes, and which featured significant news on both the Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 fronts, this week’s Law Bytes podcast provides a mid-summer update on recent developments. Barring some urgent news, the podcast will be taking a break in August and return in September.
Culture Lobby Groups Call on Government to Open Door to CRTC Regulation of Video Games, User Content and Algorithms Under Bill C-11 Implementation
Bill C-11 may have receded into the background of CRTC consultations and government policy directions, but Canadians concerned with user content, video game and algorithmic regulation would do well to pay attention. Lobby groups that fought for the inclusion of user content regulation in the bill have now turned their attention to the regulatory process and are seeking to undo government assurances that each of those issues – user content, algorithms and even video games – would fall outside of the scope of the regulatory implementation of the bill. In fact, if the groups get their way, Canadians would face unprecedented regulations with the CRTC empowered to create a host of new obligations that could even include requirements for Youtubers and TikTokers to register with the Commission. With a new Heritage Minister in place, the submissions raise serious concerns about whether the government will maintain its commitments regarding scoping out users, video games, and algorithms.
The most troubling publicly available document comes from a coalition that calls itself ACCORD, representing songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The group has posted its submission to the government’s consultation on the draft policy direction to the CRTC on Bill C-11. All submissions are not yet posted, but I should note that I also submitted a brief document, calling on the government to fully honour its commitment to exclude user content and algorithms from regulation and to establish limits on discoverability regulation.