CRTC Announces Consultations Will Happen With Bill C-11, But Details Sparse

The CRTC says it will conduct consultations on implementing Bill C-11. Details, however, are thin as it says there is more to come.

On Thursday, Canada effectively abolished freedom of expression thanks to Bill C-11 receiving royal assent. The news, of course, was devastating. In response, creators are seeing an expiration date for their careers. This with the government sending a clear message to the entire internet community that says that online internet innovation will not be tolerated and the government will work vigorously to ensure that you’ll never see a dime for your efforts. This especially after one MP flatly stated that destroying freedom of expression is “worth it“.

Lobbyists, for their part, cheered on the developments. Within hours of the bill receiving royal assent, lobbyists began calling on the government to quickly get to work cracking down on social media and user generated content. The calls made it clear that those backing Bill C-11 aren’t even bothering to hide their true intentions of the bill any more and they didn’t even bother waiting for the ink to dry on the newly minted law.

Of course, while there are a number of things that are to happen next, it was not necessarily clear what order they would come in. Those steps are the policy directive from the government, the CRTC consultations, the US issuing trade tariffs on Canada, the CRTC ramping up activities to begin regulating the internet (I still laugh at that prospect), and, of course, the inevitable litigation to put a stop to all of this madness.

Today, we are learning that it looks like the CRTC will be making the first step by announcing that there will be consultations. The regulator did release a statement which reads, in part:

The CRTC will establish a modernized regulatory framework where all players contribute equitably. The broadcasting system will ensure that online streaming services make meaningful contributions to Canadian and Indigenous content. Creators will have opportunities to tell their stories and Canadians will have access to a greater variety and diversity of content. The CRTC has no intention to regulate creators of user-generated content and their content.

We will share our detailed plan and launch the first public consultations shortly. We will adapt our approach in light of any future policy direction.

The views of all Canadians will be important at every step. We encourage everyone to participate, including traditional players and streaming services who will be regulated, as well as Canadians who will benefit from the modernized system.

The statement is, naturally, contradictory as it states that it totally won’t regulate user generated content, but it totally will regulate platforms which… is where user generated content tends to get posted on. It’s a continuation of the contradictory statements of the government which frequently says things like the government won’t regulate user generated content, but it will regulate platforms like YouTube and the content that resides on it. That cluelessness of how the internet works is clearly continuing with the CRTC statement.

After a quick look on the CRTC website, we didn’t see any additional details of the consultations. The CRTC has a history of serving the needs of the powers that be, notoriously rubberstamping the Rogers Shaw merger and reversing a key decision on keeping cell phone and internet rates low among other things. Since these decisions were made, there has been a new chair to helm the CRTC, Vicky Eatrides, though she comes into the regulator at a time when its reputation is at an all time low. It’s going to take a considerable effort to actually turn the reputation around to say the least.

Hope for the situation is a scarce commodity. Though some organizations and individuals are putting on a brave face and say they will participate, it’s quite difficult to see how the course will change. After all, the statement itself shows that the CRTC has little knowledge of how social media works in the first place. The very concept of user generated content is clearly a mystery to the regulator and this is coupled with well financed and well practiced corporate interests who seem to have every intention of seeing the lives of digital first creators ruined.

We’ll, of course, see what happens when the consultations carry out, but in all likelihood, history will, again, repeat itself and we’ll probably see the concerns of Canadian online creators ignored. Feel free to surprise us, CRTC.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: