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Boston Net Neutrality Rally by Tim Carter (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/CCkbMB

Why Bill C-10 Undermines the Government’s Commitment to the Principle of Net Neutrality

Bill C-10 was once again a major topic of discussion during Question Period in the House of Commons yesterday, with questions focusing on the broad scope of the law, freedom of speech concerns with regulating user generated content, and the inconsistencies in Cancon rules. Yet the issue that seemed to garner increased attention was whether Bill C-10 violates the government’s longstanding commitment to net neutrality.

The net neutrality issue was sparked earlier this month by Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, who suggested in an interview that critics of Bill C-10 were supporters of net neutrality, a comment that many took to indicate a shift away from supporting net neutrality. The government has since denied a change in policy and maintains that Bill C-10, which includes the discoverability rules that would empower the CRTC to prioritize or de-prioritize content on user social media feeds, does not undermine net neutrality.

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May 27, 2021 9 comments News
FAIL! by John Pasden (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7w4eB3

The Bill C-10 Effect: Why Canadian Consumers Face a Future of Cancon Surcharges and Blocked Services

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has frequently claimed that his legislative goal in Bill C-10 is to “get money from web giants”. As last week’s post on a Canadian Heritage departmental memo highlighted, Bill C-10 targets far more than just “web giants” as the bill adopts a far broader regulatory approach that targets podcast apps such as Stitcher and Pocket Casts, audiobook services such as Audible, home workout apps, pornographic sites, sports streaming services such as MLB.TV and DAZN, niche video services such as Britbox, and even broadcaster websites such as the BBC.

The effect of significant new regulatory costs on these services is likely to spark one of two responses: some services will simply pass along the costs to consumers in the form of new Cancon surcharges, while others will likely block the Canadian market altogether. The Cancon surcharges, when combined with the new sales taxes on digital services that take effect later this year, could lead to the costs of digital services skyrocketing by nearly 50 per cent in Canada. If that happens, Guilbeault will be getting money from consumers, not the web giants.

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May 25, 2021 25 comments News
Canadian Heritage Memorandum, December 8, 2020, ATIP A-2020-00498

Not Just Big Tech: Government Memo Shows Bill C-10 Targets News Sites, Podcast and Workout Apps, Adult Websites, Audiobooks, and Sports Streamers for CRTC Regulation

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has tried to deflect public concern with the regulation of user generated content under Bill C-10 by claiming the intent is to make the “web giants” pay their fair share. Yet according to an internal government memo to Guilbeault signed by former Heritage Deputy Minister Hélène Laurendeau released under the Access to Information Act, the department has for months envisioned a far broader regulatory reach. The memo identifies a wide range of targets, including podcast apps such as Stitcher and Pocket Casts, audiobook services such as Audible, home workout apps, adult websites, sports streaming services such as MLB.TV and DAZN, niche video services such as Britbox, and even news sites such as the BBC and CPAC.

The regulations would bring the full power of CRTC regulation over these sites and services. This includes requiring CRTC registration, disclosure of financial and viewership data, Canadian content discoverability requirements (yes, that could mean Canadian discoverability for pornography services), and mandated payments to support Canadian film, television, and music production. The list also notably identifies potential regulation of Youtube Music, Snapchat Originals, and other social media services whose supposed exclusion has been cited as the rationale to extend regulation to user generated content.

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May 20, 2021 28 comments News
Zune subscribe to IHR by Derek K. Miller (1969-2011) https://flic.kr/p/55Ydiq (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Think Regulating User Generated Content in Bill C-10 Is Just an Inadvertent Mistake? Think Again

Over the past several days, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has repeatedly been told that Canadian cultural groups are among the strongest supporters of freedom of expression and would never think of supporting legislation that undermines that foundational democratic principle. Yet the reality is that some of the same cultural groups that now downplay the impact of Bill C-10 on expression, lobbied the government to remove all user generated content safeguards. In other words, rather than support freedom of expression for all Canadians, some envisioned full regulation of both users and their content.

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May 19, 2021 12 comments News
freedom of expression by Jason Taellious (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/5kTNEG

Debating Bill C-10 at the Canadian Heritage Committee, Part Two: A Special Law Bytes Podcast

With yesterday’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting with experts on Bill C-10 and its implications for freedom of expression, this is a special Law Bytes episode featuring my opening statement and engagement with Members of Parliament. The discussion canvassed a wide range of issues including how regulating user generated content makes Canada an outlier worldwide, the impact on net neutrality, and why discoverability requirements constitute speech regulation. There is a second post that features my opening statement to the committee.

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May 18, 2021 2 comments Podcasts