CRTC Chair Ian Scott appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday and Bill C-11 proved to be a popular topic of discussion. The exchanges got testy at times as Scott seemingly stepped outside of his role as an independent regulatory by regularly defending government legislation, even veering into commenting on newspapers, which clearly falls outside the CRTC’s jurisdiction. With respect to Bill C-11, most newsworthy were two comments regarding the regulation of user content and the timelines for implementing the bill if it receives royal assent.
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Is There Anything Less Convincing than CRTC Chair Ian Scott’s Empty Assurances on Bill C-11 User Content Regulation?
The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) has now passed second reading in the House of Commons and will be the subject of hearings at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the coming weeks. With the prospect of user generated content regulation still a serious concern, outgoing CRTC Chair Ian Scott tried to provide assurances earlier this week that the Commission has no interest in exercising regulatory powers over user generated content. Yet Scott’s comments rang hollow as he twisted himself in a series of contradictory knots that lead to the inescapable conclusion that non-binding promises without actual reforms mean little.
Keeping the Bill C-11 Implementation Secret, Regulating User Content, and Citing Non-Existent Benefits: Some Reflections on the House of Commons Online Streaming Act Debate
The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) was the subject of hours of debate yesterday in the House of Commons as the government presses to get the bill out of second reading and onto committee for hearings and further study. Setting aside the claims of “censorship” on one side and “you don’t care about creators” on the other, there were some notable takeaways from the debate, including the government digging in on keeping the policy direction to the CRTC secret, acknowledging (perhaps inadvertently) that the bill does regulate user generated content, and several comments from MPs that promise outcomes that are simply not part of the bill.
Leading off during Question Period was a direct question to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about releasing the planned policy directive to the CRTC before the bill receives royal assent so that Canadians can see the details of how the bill is intended to be implemented.
The Government’s Gaslighting of the Online Streaming Act (Or Why Bill C-11 Regulates User Generated Content)
The House of Commons debate over the Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) is likely to continue this week with the government anxious to get the bill out of the House of Commons and into committee for further study and approval. The recent discussion in the House featured Liberal MP MP Mark Gerretsen insisting that the bill does not cover user generated content:
I can assure this member and all Conservatives that nobody is more interested in preserving the content they create in this House than I am: the content that they give me to put out on social media. If I thought for one second that user-generated content would be impacted by this bill, I certainly would not be in favour of it.
I would like to point out to the member that there are several sections in this piece of legislation that explicitly preserve user-generated content: sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3(a), 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3(3).
I am curious. This is a simple question. Has the member read the bill, and he has read those sections in particular?
I’m not a Member of Parliament but I have read the bill and those specific sections. The indisputable reality is that the net result of those provisions is that user generated content is covered by the bill. Indeed, the government is gaslighting the public with claims that it does not.
Not an Outlier: What the Government’s Online Harms Secrecy Debacle Says About Its Internet Regulation Plans
My post on the hundreds of submissions to the government’s online harms consultation has garnered significant attention, including a front page news story from the Globe and Mail (I was also pleased to appear on Evan Solomon’s show and the Dean Blundell podcast). The coverage has rightly focused on previously secret submissions such as those from Twitter likening the Canadian plan to China or North Korea and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, who warn that the legislation would have risked constituting “one of the most significant assaults on marginalized and racialized communities in years.” If you haven’t read it, please read my post summarizing some of the key findings or access the entire package that was obtained under the Access to Information Act.