The federal government continues to make a mockery of Canadian Charter freedoms as it moves to regulate the internet.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced September 29 they will regulate streaming services to ensure they make “meaningful” Canadian and Indigenous content.
“This may not be the censorship regime some suggest,” says University of Ottawa law professor, Dr. Michael Giest, “but it definitely signals an extensive regulatory framework coming.”
On May 12, the regulatory board began a thorough review of 200 interventions as part of its first public consultations, only now issuing its first two decisions.
The CRTC says that online streaming services making in excess of $10 million per annum must complete a registration form by November 28 to inform the federal government of their activities in Canada.
According to a news release, the registration process will collect basic information and is only required once.
“Much of the problem lies with the government, which claimed Bill C-11 was just about web giants and ‘platforms were in and users were out,’” said Geist.
“This was never true. […] Additional exemptions for podcasts, social media, adult sites, news services, and thematic services were all rejected,” he added.
Additionally, the CRTC says that a prerequisite to operate in Canada includes online streamers providing them with information related to their content and subscribership.
The academic and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce law, condemned the CRTC for downplaying their registration process, posing concerns on a potential registry for podcasts, media, and other streaming services to operate in Canada.
Geist said this is a position that “runs counter to freedom of expression rights without government interference.”
According to the regulatory board, another round of consultations is in the works.
Rebel News publisher Ezra Levant condemned the lack of Parliamentary debate on Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act, calling it a “decree” consistent with those made by dictator Fidel Castro in Communist Cuba.
“Trudeau used his hand-picked appointees at the CRTC to announce this hijacking,” he said. “It put the entire Internet under the control of his CRTC appointees.”
Prior to completing its Third Reading in the Senate, Liberal Senator David Richards likened the censorious bill to totalitarian regimes, which Rebel has covered since its inception.
“Stalin again will be looking over our shoulder when we write,” he said, drawing additional similarities between this bill and dictatorships.
“In Germany, it was called the Ministry of National Enlightenment,” continued Richards, as he compared it to the Reich Ministry for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment which controlled film, radio, theatre, and the press during Hitler’s reign in Nazi Germany.
Nevertheless, Trudeau rammed Bill C-11 through the Commons on March 30 without opposition debate, citing “time allocation.”
“The Liberals in coalition with the NDP and Bloc Québécois have just passed the censorship bill out of the House of Commons,” said Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre then.
He remained confident at the time that “free speech warriors” within the Senate, including Conservative Senator Leo Housakos, would fight the legislation.
“He’s going to fight like hell to stop it from passing,” claimed the Opposition leader of Housakos.
Though the senator held the bill’s predecessor in the Senate for the better part of a year, it ultimately passed in April by a vote of 52-16, with one senator abstaining.
According to Levant, one of the new powers granted to the federal government includes forcing Facebook, Google, and YouTube to alter their algorithms.
- 9.1(1)(e) says: "The Commission may... make orders imposing conditions... including... the presentation of programs and programming services for selection by the public, including the showcasing and the discoverability of Canadian programs..."
“That's a search algorithm,” he said.
Elon Musk, owner of X, took the federal government to task on October 1 for its “shameful” decision to regulate streaming services that offer podcasts in Canada.
“Trudeau is trying to crush free speech in Canada,” he said, calling the move “shameful.”
Glenn Greenwald, the co-founder of The Intercept, said Canada is now “armed with one of the world’s most repressive online censorship schemes.”