As Ink Dries on Bill C-11, Lobbyists Start Demanding the Regulation of User Generated Content

The ink was still drying on the Royal Assent of Bill C-11 and lobbyists just couldn’t help themselves about social media.

Yesterday, we reported that Bill C-11 received Royal Assent. As a result, freedom of expression has been legally abolished in this country. Now, in order to be heard, you need government permission first – thus relegating expression to merely a privilege rather than a right.

One thing is for sure, on the lead up to the final passage of Bill C-11, supporters of the bill have been increasingly naked about the true nature of Bill C-11. One politician said that doing away with freedom of expression is “worth it“. So, pretty much saying that, yes, we are destroying freedom of expression with Bill C-11, you got a problem with that?

There was another development that happened shortly after the bill received Royal Assent, one of the lobbyists supporting the bills passage started demanding that the CRTC start cracking down on social media:

Canada joins a growing number of countries that have legislation regulating digital platforms in order to protect and promote the diversity of their cultural expressions. The CDCE celebrates a great day, but notes that the real work has just begun.

In the coming months, the government will issue a policy direction to the CRTC, which will then have the important responsibility of developing the rules that will apply to each of the new services that are now clearly under its jurisdiction, i.e. audiovisual and audio streaming services and social media.

(via @MGeist)

So, essentially, what the lobbyist organization is saying is that they want their members content ahead of everyone else in Canada. This is precisely why people were fearful about the legislation in the first place. For users, the fear is that their interests would largely be overruled and the government starts picking and choosing what they feel you should be consuming instead of leaving the choice up to consumers. For creators, they fear that they will lose audiences as a result of having their content demoted in favour of government sponsored content. Here, we see the lobbyist organization flatly admit that, yes, that is the whole point of the bill: freedom for me, but not for thee.

The next day, another supporter of the bill said that the bill totally won’t regulate user generated content. The reasons for that in his mind, well, leaves a lot to be desired:

Here are some comforting thoughts.

First, the blank canvass of unknown regulatory outcomes will get filled in fairly quickly. The CRTC may set some parameters in its Notice of Consultation for public hearings. Also, when participants in the CRTC’s public hearings file their initial representations, the focus may narrow further.

Second, the legislation gives the CRTC the authority to make YouTube tweak its algorithms in order to get quantifiable results on promoting Canadian programs. But the legislation denies the CRTC the authority to dictate any particular change to algorithms. That leaves the algorithm design in the hands of the platforms.

Third, the CRTC may choose not to pursue a ‘one-size fits all’ policy on discoverability. There may be more intrusive expectations for French language music and none at all for news commentary or home renovation videos.

Expect the CRTC to make generous use of its well-used exemption authority to leave the vast majority of citizen and solo artist videos untouched for the foreseeable future.

(Via @MGeist)

This is what us internet folk classify as an “epic fail”. Essentially, this supporter is arguing that it totally won’t regulate user generated content and that user generated content won’t get touched. All it does is heavily intrude on people’s choices and override user choice by forcing platforms to push government certified content, uh, only a little, and everyone will totally get that same fair shake as before. How often are you going to see someone try to deny the fears by… confirming those very fears in the first place? Cue audience laughter here.

So, it’s probably not surprising that lobbyists are already chomping at the bit to start ruining people’s lives and wreck the free and open internet. At least they are being a bit more open and honest about what they really want in the first place which is… something… I guess?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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