Post Tagged with: "freedom of expression"

Freedom of Expression is Not A Loophole: Responding to the Government’s Inaccurate Defence of Mandated Payments for Links in Bill C-18

Freedom of Expression is Not A Loophole: Responding to the Government’s Inaccurate Defence of Mandated Payments for Links in Bill C-18

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage opened its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-18 on Friday with some extensive questions about the scope of coverage of the bill and the opportunity to vote on several amendments. The meeting finally provided the chance to ask department officials for their views on key questions, including whether the government believes that services such as Reddit and Twitter are caught by the law (the answer was yes they are digital news intermediaries, but may not be sufficiently dominant to be required to negotiate mandate payments). The most important moment in the hearing came toward the end, when Conservative MP Rachael Thomas moved an amendment to exclude links from the scope of the definition of news content. That approach would still ensure that news publishers are covered for uses of their work such as republication (which is precisely what most would envision) but safeguard the foundation of the free flow of information on the Internet. 

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November 21, 2022 4 comments News
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Why Bill C-18’s Mandated Payment for Links is a Threat to Freedom of Expression in Canada

The study into the Online News Act continues this week as the government and Bill C-18 supporters continue to insist that the bill does not involve payment for links. These claims are deceptive and plainly wrong from even a cursory reading of the bill. Simply put, there is no bigger concern with this bill. This post explains why link payments are in, why the government knows they are in, and why the approach creates serious risks to the free flow of information online and freedom of expression in Canada.

Payments for Links: “The Whole Purpose of Why We’re Here”

First, the statute and comments related to the bill leave no doubt that payment for links is absolutely part of the legislative plan. Section 2(2) of the bill defines making news content available as follows:

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November 1, 2022 10 comments News
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The Bill C-11 Hearings Are Back, Part One: The Risks of Regulating User Content

The Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications resumes its hearings into Bill C-11 this week with plans for four sessions that will hear from a wide range of witnesses. Given the shortcomings of the House committee hearings – numerous important stakeholders were not given the opportunity to appear – the Senate review this fall provides a critical opportunity to re-examine the bill and to address some of its obvious flaws. With that in mind, this post is the first of a series that highlights some of Bill C-11’s major risks and concerns.

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September 12, 2022 20 comments News
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CRTC Ruling Signals How Bill C-11 Could Be Used To Regulate Internet Content

Just one week after Canadian Heritage and CRTC officials provided assurances to a Senate committee that the Commission’s regulatory powers over freedom of expression were constrained by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the CRTC yesterday released a ruling in which the majority ignored the Charter altogether in regulating content on Radio-Canada. The decision signals how Bill C-11 could be used to regulate Internet content the CRTC deems contrary to Broadcasting Act policy objectives. It also continues a disturbing trend of revelations that have come in the aftermath of Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez cutting off debate to rush the bill through the House of Commons: officials later admitting that the $1B claim of benefits is merely an “illustrative” estimate, CRTC Chair Ian Scott opening the door to indirect algorithmic regulation, and now the release of a decision on content regulation that dates back to November 2020.

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June 30, 2022 11 comments News
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Bill C-11’s Foundational Faults, Part Two: The Regulate-It-All Approach of Treating All Audio-Visual Content as a “Program”

My first post in a series on foundational faults in Bill C-11 focused on the virtually limitless reach of the CRTC’s jurisdictional power over audio-visual services. The starting point in the bill is that all audio-visual services anywhere in the world with some Canadian users or subscribers are subject to the Canadian jurisdiction and it will fall to the Commission to establish thresholds exempting some services from regulation. However, even with some exemptions, the Canadian approach will require registration and data disclosures, likely leading many services to block Canada altogether, reducing choice and increasing consumer cost.

The expansive approach in Bill C-11 isn’t limited to its jurisdictional reach, however. Not only does the law have few limits with respect to which services are regulated, it is similarly over-broad with respect to what is regulated, featuring definitions that loop all audio-visual content into the law by treating all audio-visual content as a “program” subject to potential regulation.

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February 23, 2022 6 comments News