(Disclaimer: This post is going to be relatively centerist in tone. Apologies in advance, but if you’re writing about settler colonialism and are writing about how Canada is a bunch of oil companies in a trenchcooat, you are not the intended audience and you already know why this bill is going to censor you.)
So….right now I dislike every major elected party in Canada. I do not have a fruit or a Canadian Flag on my Twitter Bio, and I don’t spend my days constantly defending or attacking Trudeau. I spend my days being extremely disappointed that the party I used to like, the NDP, has turned into a complete joke and can’t manage to come up with a coherent policy on anything other than propping up the Liberal government.
So, I take positions on issues, and in this case, I am against Bill C10.
What is Bill C10
Bill C10 was a bill that was yet another kick at the can to create a streaming tax and have the Canadian government intervene when it came to supporting Canadian content. That’s how it originally started, anyway. What it has morphed into is this collosal act where different stakeholers are asking the Canadian government to create what could only be described as the Great Maple Firewall where the Canadian government through the CRTC can decide what is appropriate to be on the Internet in Canada, and what is not.
There are already laws in Canada regarding Hate Speech as well as against Child Sexual Abuse Material, and there is no such thing as a US version of Section 230, so forum providers are already liable for content posted on their site and can be sued to take down content. There’s also been Copyright reform in Canada, not to the same level as in the United States, bit it has happened. The Internet is not a lawless place that politicians like to make it out to be. In fact, Canada has extremely annoying copyright and licensing laws where content has an exclusive licence to a particluar rights holder and certain services can not be offered in Canada. That means that if something is exclusive on Hulu, for example, I can never ever see it.
Now, to understand how these sort of bills work, think of it as a changeset to existing Canadian law, namely that it changes a number of differnet laws to enact policy objectives. In this case, the thing that people object to is the following, a change to the proposed law that had an exemption for user generated content on social media being removed.
4.1 (1) This Act does not apply in respect of(a) programs that are uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service — who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them — for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service; and(b) online undertakings whose broadcasting consists only of such programs.
Without this section in Bill-C10, this means that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other providers would have to apply the Broadcasting Act to any user generated content on the Internet and remove it to avoid violating the act. Many providers would just simply stop providing services to Canada, and others would use machine learning models with algorithmic bias to censor Canadian users. Certain groups want this because they believe they can censor the alt-right, however existing hate speech legislation exists and has been proven to be ineffective due ot the high threshold required.
Now, the Liberal government is claiming that Section 4.1 is redundant because of this section:
(2.1) A person who uses a social media service to upload programs for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service — and who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them — does not, by the fact of that use, carry on a broadcasting undertaking for the purposes of this Act.
That’s clearly untrue, because while section 2.1 exempts the individual from carrying a broadcasting undertaking, it doesn’t exclude the platform and requires the platform to be responsible for their speech and to censor that person. In short, it still leads to the algorithmic biases where as 4.1 protects the speech online since posting bad memes about how Trudeau “hates oil and Gas” (HE BOUGHT A PIPELINE!!!!) is not hate speech. This is intentional, since the Liberals want to use the CRTC to censor what Canadians see on the Internet.
OK, so how do I learn about this without reading the National Post or viewing Conservative Twitter
OK, so here’s a quick link roundup:
https://www.michaelgeist.ca/2021/04/why-the-liberals-have-become-the-most-anti-internet-government-in-canadian-history/ – This is the article that Erin O’Toole read. Micheal Geist fights for the user, and is not a partisan hack of any political party.
https://action.openmedia.org/page/81358/action/1?ea.tracking.id=om – OpenMedia’s petition site that automatically e-mails your MP based on Postal Code – I have many issues with OpenMedia, but one thing they’re not is Conservative
There are also some good lawyers who I follow who AFAIK, are not Conservative operatives.
There’s also this thread by Cynthia Khoo, who is awesome.
Honestly, I should also mention that people should follow Tamir Isreal and CIPPIC. There’s also other Internet policy people who are more about privacy that I’d recommend following like David TS Fraser (@privacylawyer) and Lex Gill. Having been shitposting about the health of the Canadian Internet for over a decade, I can confidently say while I don’t know how these people vote, they are almost certainly NOT Conservative Party operatives, and that partisanship thinking like that is a sickness that people need to get out of their heads if they want to keep people accountable.
The fact of the matter is that everyone should be concerned about the Internet being censored in this way, and the reality is that it’s far more likely for outfits like Unicorn Riot, Media Co-Op, Canadaland and Submedia.tv to be censored by this than it is for the Rebel or Canada Strong due to algorithmic bias and the fact that the latter are not a threat to Canadian business. This is going to punish independent voices that speak out against the status quo and marginalize them again while doing nothing to fight hate speech on the Internet. There is absolutely no reason to support this train wreck of a bill.