Freezenet Podcast: April 2023: The Censorship Will Continue Until the Internet Improves

In the 54th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “The Censorship Will Continue Until the Internet Improves”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in April 2023.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for April, 2023. This month’s episode is entitled “The Censorship Will Continue Until the Internet Improves” after the developments of Bill C-11 leading up to it arriving at the Senate for final approval.

This month’s episode also covers Bill C-18 (Canada’s Link Tax) making it to the Senate study. This along with the disappointing news of the Rogers Shaw merger being completed.

This month’s episode also features all the usual music and video game reviews. All this and more on this month’s podcast!

You can check out our official podcast on Spotify. Alternatively, you can take a listen below:

What follows is a transcript of this month’s episode.


The Censorship Will Continue Until the Internet Improves

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 54 of the Freezenet official podcast for April, 2023.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

After vetoing the Bill C-11 Senate fix, legislation heads to the final stages of Royal Assent

Questions get raised over whether Bill C-18 is even constitutional.  This as the bill heads to the Senate committee hearings.

… and the Innovation Minister stops pretending and rubber-stamps the Rogers Shaw merger.  Now, competition in the telecom sector has been reduced to a pathetic three players.

Top Stories

Before I get into the top three stories, I wanted to point out that I have published another vlog posting this month.  This instalment focuses on a Bloc MP saying that Bill C-11 violating free speech is “worth it”.  I pretty much react to those remarks as any sane individual would in the video.  You can check out that video directly on the site and on YouTube.

Now, to our top story…

After years of fighting back and forth, it appears that the Canadian government has finally gotten the upper hand over Canadian creators.  Last month, we brought you the devastating news that the Canadian government has vetoed the Senate fix of Bill C-11, stripping protections of user generated content out of the bill.  Supporters of the bill grew excited as they are now extremely close to finally abolishing freedom of expression in this country.

In fact, Bloc MP, Andreanne Larouche, who was flanked by fellow Bloc MPs who were smiling and nodding in approval during her whole speech, had quite the comment.  She was very open to the idea that Bill C-11 is a direct assault on freedom of expression.  She went so far as to say that doing away with free speech is “worth it“.

(Larouche clip)

So, we’ve reached the point in the debate where MPs are just flat out saying that, yes, Bill C-11 violates freedom of expression, you got a problem with that?  It really takes your breath away just how naked politician’s are with their intentions of the bill.

Shortly after, the House of Commons voted to pass Bill C-11.  The vote effectively said that regulating user generated content is the entire point of Bill C-11.  There really is no debate here on that angle – this especially in light of the outrageous comments by that Bloc MP.  The real question then becomes, would the Canadian Senate, once again, stand up for Canadian creators and push back on the governments efforts to abolish freedom of expression, or, were they just going to wave the white flag, throw creators under the bus, and just rubber stamp the bill?  That is now the burning question with this bill as we reached the final hours of this debate.

As the bill headed to the Senate for a final vote, some analysis was put forward about what the Senate should do.  Indeed, the Senate has been put in a tough spot as there are very limited times and reasons for sending a bill back to the House of Commons.  One good reason is a conclusion that the bill in question is unconstitutional.  That would be a very good reason for the Senate to send the bill back.  Throughout the analysis of the situation, the conclusion was that Bill C-11 very much meets that standard of being unconstitutional.  As a result, they should send that bill back.

After reviewing that analysis, I wound up wholeheartedly agreeing with that perspective.  Of course, the problem isn’t  whether experts can make a rock solid case for why the bill is unconstitutional and that the senate should send the bill back.  The real problem is whether or not Senators will ultimately come to the same conclusion and choose to send the bill back on the grounds that the bill is unconstitutional.

My understanding is that a number of Senators don’t think the bill is unconstitutional.  In some Senators minds, the bill doesn’t actually have a provision that actively removes speech.  For that reason alone, in those Senators minds, the bill is constitutional and should be passed.  The critical flaw in that logic is the fact that, yes, there is no provision that actively removes speech, however, provisions in the bill actively suppress speech by downranking them in favour of government certified speech.  As a result, you are ghettoizing speech which, in and of itself, is unconstitutional.

Think about it this way, if the government is forcing Canadian’s to only showcase their expression in a way that cannot generally be reached by a wider audience, is it really that far removed from the government censoring you?  Not really.  It’s the equivalent of the government telling newspapers that the only place they can distribute their newspapers is via the insides of peoples garbage cans on garbage collection days.  The government then, afterwards, says, “see?  We’re not censoring you!  You can publish anything you like!  We are a free society!”  You can just imagine the howls of outrage from the newspaper industry if that were the law.  It’s a loophole so big, you can drive a Mac truck through it.  At the end of the day, we are talking about a bill that codifies government censorship.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure enough senators will see that logic and realize that this bill should be sent back.  So, there is a very easy to see discrepancy between what the Senate should do and what the Senate will do.  It’s not looking good for freedom of expression at this point.

Shortly after, there was a wave of conspiracies that popped up in this debate.  The conspiracy theories we saw were basically this: Canadian creators, who are not otherwise political, are now being political all of a sudden because of Bill C-11.  Therefore, Canadian creators are being paid by Google to stop Bill C-11.  I’ll give you a second to stop laughing.  The conspiracy theorist coming up with this also posted screenshots of the text of the bill, slapped on a couple of emoji’s, and said that he’s the only one who read the bill.  The screenshots in question were of the text that basically said that user generated content was to be regulated.  I’ll give you another moment to stop laughing.

Not surprisingly, Canadian creators reacted angrily at this and tried to explain what the sections in question actually said.  The conspiracy theorist just launched a barrage of insults and false accusations without actually, you know, backing up his claims.  Unsurprisingly, the conspiracy theorist also got flamed by other users in the process.

I mean, even the most basic level of critical thinking would conclude that the conspiracy theorist was an idiot.  I mean, you don’t suppose that the reason otherwise non-political creators are suddenly becoming political is because the bill is actually a threat to their livelihoods?  When you threaten someone’s livelihood, people put in that situation tend to treat such threats seriously.  This was plainly the case here.

What’s more, other conspiracy theories I’ve seen say that Google opposes this, therefore, everyone who opposes it is somehow in Google’s back pocket.  This is easily debunked by pointing out that there is such a thing as having a mutually beneficial position with someone else.  It’s a bit like saying that because boat manufacturers don’t like their customers drowning, and the person manning the boat also doesn’t like their passengers drowning, therefore, the person manning the boat is part of this grand conspiracy with the boating industry.  As a result, the conspiracy theorist refuses to help bail water out of the leaking boat.  Any sane person would slap that conspiracy theorist up the back of the head and say, “shut up and bail water you dolt!”

The most hilarious thing in all of this is the fact that I, myself, was accused of being in Google’s back pocket.  I’m sorry, that doesn’t even pass the laugh test.  I mean, I’ve reported in the past about Project Bernanke where Google was accused of suppressing publisher revenue.  I also reported in the past about how YouTube’s ContentID is terrible as it doesn’t take into account fair use and is ripe for censorship abuse.  If my job was being a Google shill, I really really suck at my job.

What’s more, if I was somehow getting kick-backs in all of this, I would’ve hired other staff writers and a team to help maintain the site and social media by now.  I probably would’ve paid for a whole facelift of the site by now too.  I would also have video editing software and hardware by now.  I do not.  So, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m not even close to being influenced by Google.

Well, conspiracy theories aside, Canadian creators are making a last stand for their livelihoods.  TikTok creator, newmoneynate, said to the Canadian Press, “I want to understand what the impact to my broader reach will be, whether it’s on TikTok or YouTube, because that impacts my business, who I do business with, and am I attractive to sponsors from international markets”

“A lot of people have some sort of existential fear around being limited in some sense by some governing body,” Kennedy said.

“And there’s collateral damage — called creators — that could be impacted by this.”

Nate is like many other creators who find themselves suddenly having to learn about the Canadian political system in a hurry.  Another creator was also equally worried about the future:

“The government hasn’t been able to provide any meaningful information to industry about the actual application of this proposed law,” said Kai Hutchence, CEO of Massive Corporation Game Studios in Regina.

“They say a lot of things, but most of it is extremely vague. They don’t provide a clear example of what they would do on given platforms.”

While the government seems to be headed towards a conclusion where their concerns are completely ignored, you really can’t blame creators for making a last ditch effort to try and save their careers.  I mean, if I was in their shoes, I’d probably be doing the same thing they are doing.  It really is all you can do in that situation.

One thing is for sure, though, pretty much every talking point about Bill C-11 has gone down in flames over the last several months.  Talking points like “Platforms in, users out”, “It doesn’t regulate algorithms”, and so many others have been absolutely destroyed with facts, logic, and reason.  The thing is, there is one last talking point that has been on the ropes, but still hanging on.  That is the talking point that Bill C-11 ensures that “Big Tech pays their fair share”.  The simple fact is that there has been no shortage of evidence to say that platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and TikTok already invest quite a bit into Canadian culture.  Combine that with the fact that very little in the bill itself is about making the large platforms “pay their fair share” to begin with.  It was always an incredibly weak argument to support the bill to begin with.

This month, the argument has well and truly gone down in flames.  After an ATIP request, documents released this month reveal that not only was the whole talking point about making platforms pay their fair share a lie, but that the government fully knew that this was a lie, but chose to run with that talking point anyway.  Internally, the documents reveal, the government knew that whether Bill C-11 passed or not, there would be little, if any, impact on the creative jobs market.

Further, the documents reveal that the government knew that large streaming platforms already produce what is generally considered ‘unofficial Canadian content’.  This being content that may not qualify to being officially Canadian, but is otherwise very much Canadian content or “Cancon”.  Specifically, had it not been for who owns the intellectual property, it would undoubtedly qualify as “Cancon”.  The ensuing figure was that $48 million per year was invested in the production of this ‘unofficial’ Cancon.  The revelations fly in the face of what was publicly stated by government officials who so often claimed that streamers don’t contribute to Canadian culture at all.  Some supporters of the bill sometimes say that these streamers have supposedly crashed on the Canadian couch and that Bill C-11 means that the rent is finally due.  In the end, not only was this talking point a lie, but the government lied knowingly about this.

To make the situation even more damning, the internal documents brought up user generated content.  When there was analysis of what user generated content actually means to the Canadian government, it turns out that the Canadian government knows very little about user generated content.  So, if you are a Canadian creator asking if you would be considered Canadian content or are outside of the scope of the bill, the truth in the matter is that the Canadian government really doesn’t have much of a clue about that.  You might ask, ‘what does the government mean when they say “professional” content in this bill and does that affect my YouTube channel?’  For the government, it’s a giant shrug with a response that may as well say, “heck if I know.  We’re just making this all up as we go along.”

The documents were not only the final blow to the talking point that this bill is about making sure platforms pay their fair share, but lends support to the theory that the government didn’t know user generated content existed in Canada.  This despite the fact that user generated content makes up a very big portion of the content that exists on platforms these days.  Suffice to say, there is no defence of Bill C-11 left intact at this stage.

Later on this month, the bill wound up getting debated at the Senate.  The ultimate question for the Senate wound up being this: Does the senate throw digital first creators under the bus and pass Bill C-11 or does the Senate defend the Canadian Charter and send the bill back to the House of Commons?  This thanks to a lack of the critical senate fix.  Expectations were quite low as we heard some grumblings from some Senators about how they just want to pass the bill so they can see the bill be “done and dusted”.  The comments didn’t go over well for Canadian creators who openly asked if they were about to legally be screwed over simply because the topic of debate got boring for some senators.

At any rate, it was expected that the bill would just get passed quickly that week.  Whether it was by Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, it just seemed like it was going to happen that week.

Curiously, however, as the week progressed, word of the bills final passage and the ensuing death knell of online creativity never came.  Some Senators have said that they would not lend their support to the passage of Bill C-11 as-is.

Then, on Friday, the news was almost fitting for the end of the debate.  Like so many other moments throughout the history of the bill, Bill C-11 backing senators pushed forward a motion to have senators shut up about the bill and shut down debate.  Debate has been cut short, at least, close to half a dozen times already.  For the government, the effort to ruin lives can’t come soon enough for them.  So, we reached the end of the time period of coverage for this podcast.  We’ll continue to monitor the situation, but in all likelihood, the outcome is that Canadians get thrown under the bus and Bill C-11 gets passed.  This with the abolishing of freedom of expression in this country.  That’s our expectations anyway and we have little reason to believe it will go down any other way.

Bill C-18 made numerous headlines this month.  This month, curiously, started in the UK.  The UK government was set to lay out its version of the British variation of the link tax.  Calculations by the Press Gazette estimate that Google and Facebook could be on the hook for, conservatively £170 million just for newspapers alone.  To put it simply, that’s another 170 million reasons for Facebook and Google to just drop news links altogether.

When Australia passed the link tax in their country, I wound up saying that this sets an ugly precedent for multiple reasons.  Not only does it set the precedent that referral links are now something that requires payment, but it also sets the precedence that news organizations from other countries are going to want their pound of flesh too from Google and Facebook.  It was a terrible gamble by Facebook and Google to just go along with this Australian model in hopes that it doesn’t spread to other countries.  This despite so many other international laws like anti-encryption efforts and copyright law doing, well, exactly that.

I was far from the only one saying that this would happen, either.  Others were certain that this would happen.  Now, we have been proven correct.  Large media organizations in Canada want a link tax.  Similar organizations are wanting it in France.  Other European nations are going this rout.  The US is back and forth, though trying to go this rout.  Now, the UK is trying to go this way as well.  Our predictions have come true to the letter.

As a result, Google and Facebook are right back at square one.  Once again, they are asking themselves, do they go through with this and hand another chunk of their wealth away for no real reason or do they put their foot down and say, “Enough is enough.  It was ridiculous in Australia and it is ridiculous here.  We are dropping news links for your country.”  If they do the former, history is just going to repeat itself.  If they do the latter, they finally stem the financial bleeding of their companies.  That choice is firmly in their court at this point.

As we pointed out already, media organizations that already have deals have been demanding larger payouts, saying that if news organization X is getting this much money, then we should be getting more too.  There is no end to this cycle of freeloading off of Google and Facebook.  The only way to stop it is if Google and Facebook just drops news links and let the big publishers fend for themselves.  The UK, in this case, handed out yet another example of this.

As that happened, questions began to emerge over whether or not Bill C-18 is even constitutional.  Indeed, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms include the right to freedom of the press.  This includes being able to hold opinions without interference.  Further, this freedom, legally speaking, includes the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds whether orally, in writing or in print, or through any other media of choice.  What I just said was not my legal opinion on the matter.  That is the governments analysis and opinion on the matter.

The problem arises when the government tables a bill that makes my life more difficult.  Indeed, when a government implements something like Bill C-18 and extracts money from platforms for all news linking, then hands that money to a small subset of players that excludes me, then my efforts to run Freezenet have been financially impeded.  While a competitor can take the extra money and, say, hire extra journalists or run a bigger advertising campaign, or find other ways of having an advantage over me, that means it is harder for my site to remain financially stable.  As such, it makes it harder to maintain and run my small news operation thanks to government action.  As such, it would appear that my right to freedom of the press has been infringed.

Now, some hardcore supporters might look at that analysis and say that this is all just made up and that there is no real case that Bill C-18 is unconstitutional.  OK, fine, well then, let’s see what former CRTC Chair, Konrad von Finckenstein, and former Justice Department official, Philip Palmer, has to say:

“Does Parliament have the authority to enact a scheme to regulate platforms?


The federal government never publishes the constitutional opinions upon which it is acting, so we cannot say what arguments the government may rely on if the Online News Act is challenged on constitutional grounds. We simply note that there is no apparent constitutional mooring for the Act. The history of federal attempts to regulate industries in Canada is a junkyard of wrecked dreams. We believe the Online News Act is a prime candidate to join the metaphorical debris.

The framers of the legislation themselves seem to have had some doubt as to federal jurisdiction.”

Yeah, ouch.  That doesn’t sound good.

So, it’s not really radical thinking to suggest that Bill C-18 is fraught with constitutional problems.  In a follow up, the Canadian Interest Policy and Public Interest Clinic, or CIPPIC, issued their own legal opinion in a piece entitled “Bad News“.  Part of their assessment reads as follows:

“Bill C-18 is remarkable in how poorly it is drafted. The Bill as it stands contains language that is underinclusive and vague to the point of being unconstitutional.

First, the Bill’s definitions of “news content” and “news businesses” are unclear. Bill C-18 incorporates several eligibility criteria for news businesses, among them an outlet that “produces news content of public interest that is primarily focused on matters of general interest and reports on current events including coverage of democratic institutions and processes.” Such outlets must employ two or more journalists, operate in Canada, produce content that is not primarily focused on a particular topic, and adhere to the ethical standards of the journalistic profession.”

The paper also says this:

“These provisions may well be unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that “a law will be found unconstitutionally vague if it so lacks in precision as not to give sufficient guidance for legal debate.” This is an apt description of the “significant bargaining power imbalance” provisions of Bill C-18, which fail to provide adequate guidance on how such an imbalance is to be determined.”

The whole paper in question is definitely worth reading, but this other passage additionally makes very good points:

“Perhaps the single worst aspect of Bill C-18 is that it makes Canadian journalism—the very lifeblood of our democracy—economically reliant on a toxic industry that is undermining the very foundations of democracy at home and abroad. Large online companies like Google and Meta make most of their money by selling targeted digital advertising, which use personal data mined from our online activities to bombard us with ads that follow us around the internet.

The practices of this industry have been devastating for the privacy of Canadians—especially given just how weak our privacy laws are at regulating this industry. Worse still, targeted digital advertising is at the heart of scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica affair in the U.S., and foreign interference in elections around the world. Well-crafted targeted digital advertisements have the potential to move elections and sow discord in democratic societies, and our adversaries know it.”

There are a number of reasons to be critical of Bill C-18.  Whether it is for business reasons, constitutional reasons, moral reasons, international reasons, and more.  CIPPIC, in their own right, made their own separate spectacular case for why Bill C-18 is so harmful to Canada.

One of the blockbuster developments in the Bill C-18 story is the fact that Facebook has come out and said that it intends on blocking Canadian news articles should Bill C-18 be passed without amendment.

This month, they reiterated their comments, saying that if Bill C-18 is passed as-is, then links to Canadian news articles would be going away on their platform.  During a Hub interview, a Facebook representative said, “you’re basically putting like a toll booth in front of every link for a news article. And you can see why quickly that becomes untenable for us because we can’t control who puts it on the platform, […] And so if we’re up against a rock and a hard place then we’re going to have to get out of the market”

Now, some of the hardcore Bill C-18 supporters will likely respond and say, ‘yeah, but that’s a bluff!  They’d never do that!”  This despite the overwhelming evidence that concludes that Facebook would be highly motivated to do so.  Some out there continue to blindly insist that Facebook is entirely dependent on news for their success and that news is the only thing people use Facebook for.  If you are a normal Facebook user, you probably hear that argument and say, “Uh, not really.”

Well, if that is your reaction, the data I was able to pull up pretty much agrees with you.  In one study, the number one reason people use Facebook is to “Message friends and family” at 71.1%.  I know, that sounds about right.  What was the number two reason people use Facebook?  “Post or share photos or videos” at 62.9%.  You probably hear that and say, ‘oh yeah, I get a lot of that on Facebook.’

As for keeping up to date with news and current events?  That came in at number three at 59.5%.  It’s actually unclear if that includes keeping up to date with what friends and family are up to, though.  Respectively, “Follow or research brands and products” comes in at number 4 at 55.2% and “Look for funny or entertaining content” finishes out at number 5 at 54.5%.  The information came from DataReportal.  The data ultimately suggests that there are many reasons people use Facebook.  The notion that people only use Facebook for news is completely absurd and not even the number one reason why people use Facebook.

For die hard Bill C-18 supporters, they might shout that this is just one study.  OK, fine, how about another analysis on readwrite which says, “The Bottom Line: Facebook Fulfills Our Need for Self-Presentation”.  The analysis further states, “According to the study, people use Facebook to fulfill two basic social needs: the need to belong and the need for self-presentation.”  Yeah, not exactly the ‘only used for news articles’ assumption that supporters seem to love to say.

Yet, those hardcore Bill C-18 supporters would probably whine that this is only two studies.  It’s not indicative of anything!  OK, how about a third study published by Statista.  In that study, users were asked why they use Facebook.  The answer?

88% said “To keep in contact with friends and family”

33% said “To get entertainment”

23% said “To get news”

17% said “To follow brands/companies”

11% said “To strengthen professional network”

6% said “Other purposes”

In other words, funny cat videos actually beat out professional news articles as a reason to visit Facebook.  Yes, the order of these studies, showcasing the most optimistic data for Bill C-18 supporters first was quite intentional.

At any rate, the argument that Facebook depends exclusively on news links for their success never really held water.

Of course, die hard Bill C-18 supporters will probably look at that and say, “OK, whatever.  Nothing will erase the fact that the Australian model worked wonders for the news sector in that country, so it will work wonders here too!”

Yeah, uh, about that.

Already, last month, we noted that News Corp Australia, the organization that received the biggest financial windfall from the Australian News Bargaining Code, has already laid off 1,250 employees, or about one in twenty employees.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Bargaining Code in that country.

This month, however, showed even more evidence that the Australian Model was actually an abject failure if the goal was to somehow “save” journalism.  Observers note that if you wanted evidence that the money went to preserving and bolstering journalism in the country instead of padding executive bonuses, well, sorry, you are out of luck.  Whats more, news rooms that benefited from the Code are reluctant to share the details of where the money went.  Despite the Code being in place for years, some have only just started receiving funding this year.

Smaller organizations were worse off.  The process just to qualify to begin bargaining with Google and Facebook proved to be overly burdensome.  Sometimes, some papers qualified while others didn’t with little to no explanation.  Others found the process too cumbersome and wound up not qualifying at all.  Apparently, reaching an annual turnover of $150,000 proved to be far too high of a floor for some journalism businesses.  Whats worse is that no community news radio station has received funding through the Code at all.

The overall consensus among smaller players is that the Code has largely only favoured the largest media players in the sector – namely mainstream news rooms.  Even worse, some of those mainstream players that have been able to sail through the process has since shut down after receiving the funding.  At best, the smaller players have seen limited impact on their operations.

There’s… no two ways about it.  If the goal of the Australian News Bargaining Code was to “save” journalism and bring on a new positive era of financial stability to the sector, then the code was a complete and total failure at this objective.  By endorsing the Australian model, Bill C-18 supporters are endorsing a system that does, at best, little to benefit journalism.

Despite all the evidence of what a failed policy the link tax idea is, it doesn’t appear to be enough to stop the bill in its legislative tracks.  Later on, the bill passed Second reading at the Senate.  As a result, it was moved on to the Senate committee for further study.

Now, we weren’t sure when we were supposed to submit our brief to this whole process.  However, when we started seeing submissions getting posted to the Senate website, we knew that we had to submit ours as soon as possible.  Our strategy was that while other law types would dive deep into the legalities of why Bill C-18 is a terrible bill, I decided to dive deep into the practicalities of it all.  From a business perspective, why is Bill C-18 a terrible bill?  Why is the comment that platforms are stealing and republishing whole articles on their platforms a complete and total lie?  I also hit on technological reasons why the bill is also dead on arrival – especially with the increasing popularity of Mastodon among other things.

In the process, I did request to make an appearance before the Senate committee.  Now, I am under no illusion about the whole process.  The likelihood that I am even picked is probably low to nonexistent.  What’s more, even if I am ever picked to testify, the chances of any of my ideas actually influencing anything is also quite slim.  Even if idea’s I suggest make their way into the bill, the government is just going to veto those changes anyway.  I mean, that’s what they did in Bill C-11, so what makes Bill C-18 any different?  At the same time, you don’t know if you don’t try.  What’s more, this is pretty much the only move I can make in this situation anyway.  So, you knew I had to try in the first place.

So, for those of you who recall the ever famous Bill C-11 hearings, yes, that will become a major part of my coverage coming up.  In fact, I already published a look ahead to the next hearing.  While one of those hearings almost looks to be a blank space, the other one showed various government officials testifying first.  So, we’re buckling up for another really long ride.

Finally, if you are a Canadian who is upset at the poor quality of service and sky high phone and internet bills from your ISP, well, things are only going to get a whole lot worse.  Innovation Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, has finally stopped pretending and rubberstamped the Rogers Shaw merger.  Supposedly, there are a number of conditions associated with the acquisition including the pretend spinoff of Freedom Mobile to Videotron.  Unfortunately, we all know what’s coming next: higher costs, poorer quality of service, and, of course, massive waves of layoffs.  It’s about how all of these mega mergers tend to go.

Mere days later, Rogers and Shaw completed the merger.  While smaller details are getting worked out, the completion means that Canada’s wireless and internet sector has gone from four players to three.  In short, Canada now has a triopoly in the sector.  What the merger also proved is that Canada’s competition law enforcement has proven to be a complete and total failure.

So, another busy month here on Freezenet.  Here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

Fears are mounting that Canada could soon move ahead with the Online Harms Proposal, a forthcoming piece of legislation that threatens to effectively shut down the whole Canadian internet.  Briefly, the online harms proposal demands websites allow for the flagging of material if it is deemed “harmful”.  What is considered “harmful” is left for anyone flagging the material to interpret.  If a website doesn’t comply with responding to that flag within 24 hours, then the website is on the hook for a $10 million fine.  There is no threshold for how big the site can be in order to require the flagging system.  Further, the government is demanding that offshore websites comply with such a system.  Failure to comply with that would mean that the government will order Canadian ISPs to block those websites.  So, basically, the Great Firewall of Canada.

In response, I published an article explaining why burning down the whole internet in an effort to stop hate speech is a bad idea.  It’s basically an exercise in using a sledgehammer to squash a mosquito.  So, basic, you know, common sense here.

Open Media is calling for greater transparency within the RCMP.  This after the police force has continued to use Stingray dragnet surveillance technology.  Stingray technology imitates a cell phone tower and intercepts every single signal that passes by.  From there, the signal is copied over to police surveillance databases.  After that, the cell phone signal is then retransmitted to a real cell phone tower.  RCMP have been using such technology since 2017.  The RCMP said that they would release a final policy on the use of such technology, however, they have failed to do so.  So, in response, the civil rights organization has initiated a petition to demand better.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, is raising the alarm about the UN Cybercrime Treaty.  The EFF warns that the treaty could make it a crime to ‘humiliate a person’ or group or insult a religion using a computer.  Further, the treaty would empower nations to have their respective police forces collect real-time data and information about its citizens.  Other language suggests that law enforcement could hack your computer as well.  The EFF says that the treaty threatens freedom of expression and could harm other basic civil liberties.

Censorship on Twitter continues to run rampant.  Ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter, censorship and hate speech has been spiking on the platform.  This month, Musk’s censorship efforts have bitten some of his biggest supporters.  Musk has made the decision to begin censoring Substack.  The problem with this decision is that Matt Taibbi, one of the biggest fans of the so-called “Twitter files”, also happens to use Substack.  After asking Musk to lift the blocking to his Substack, Musk apparently unfollowed and shadowbanned Taibbi.  Taibbi, in response, left Twitter to continue whatever it is he does on Substack afterwards.  The move sparked many comparisons to the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party meme.

With fears of Canada’s Online Harms proposal turning into a tool for mass censorship, it seems that the Canadian government isn’t even bothering to wait for the Online Harms proposal to become law.  A Toronto Sun article was published criticizing the Canadian governments policies on immigration.  In response, the federal government demanded that the news organization pull the article from the news site.  When the publisher refused, the government apparently took things a step further.  The government went to the social media platforms and demanded that the news article not only be removed, but that the platforms ban people from sharing links to that article.  Fortunately, the social media organizations refused to comply with that demand.

The developments have raised a lot of eyebrows in a number of circles.  People who criticize Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 have already been accused by the government of pushing disinformation, but in this case, the government went to the extreme of attempting to suppress the news article wherever they could, rather than refute the claims.  As far as I’m concerned, that is a move that crosses the line.

Unfortunately, the author, in what is no doubt typical Toronto Sun fasion, decided to not help his case and published a response. He said that this is the latest example of why the government can’t be trusted with the new censorship powers of Bill C-11 where the government can take down anything they like.  Again, there is no provision in Bill C-11 that actively removes speech.  In short, he completely confused Bill C-11 with the online harms proposal which easily could contain such provisions.  Regardless of the bad stance, it does raise fears of just how much the government wants to start censoring the internet of anything they call “misinformation”.

Surprisingly, we didn’t have to wait long to find out just how far the government intends on going with its efforts to try and take down material it doesn’t like.  Following an ATIP request, recently released documents say that various government agencies have already been demanding that content be removed from social media.  The material being demanded to be taken down ranged from mean tweets to swear words aimed at government officials.  Indeed, while no one is advocating for such behaviour, it’s more than a little concerning that efforts were made to demand platforms remove such material in the first place.  For crying out loud, though, these are platforms like Twitter we are talking about.  Did the government really expect only the most polite forms of social discourse on platforms like Twitter?  We all know how bad Twitter is these days.  Do some officials not have anything better to do than to file complaints with a platform like Twitter which is known to breed online hate in the first place?

Security theatre is continuing with TikTok.  Montana passed a law banning the app – well, more specifically, they banned app stores from carrying the app.  The move was made by lawmakers under the reasoning that people do stupid things in real life.  By banning TikTok from app stores, people will refrain from doing stupid things like “throwing objects at moving automobiles”, extinguishing fires using only body parts, and sending money to Donald Trump.  Lawmakers also said that TikTok also collects personal information for advertising purposes, but because “China”, it must be banned.  No word on how any of this counts as a plan well thought out.

The incredible growth of Mastodon continues at an impressive rate.  This month, the platform reached 11 million users.  The growth is a followup to last month where the platform managed to surpass the impressive 10 million user count milestone.  With the growth continuing at a pretty regular pace, there’s every reason to believe that it’ll hit 12 million sometime in May.  Of course, we’ll have to wait and see where this growth leads.

The CBC has joined the ranks of major news organizations ditching Twitter.  Other news organizations that have left the platform include CBS, NPR, and PBS.  The decision was reached after Elon Musk labelled the organization as “government-funded media” – a label designated for news organizations that not only receive government funding, but also receives editorial control from government.  The CBC flatly denied that the government controls its editorial decisions.  In response, the organization blamed Conservative Leader, Pierre Poilievre for the label.  The organization quoted Poilievre as celebrating the move as the CBC being “officially exposed” as “Trudeau propaganda, not news.”  The developments is a follow-up to a story we brought you during the last federal election where the CBC threatened to sue the Conservative party for reusing clips.  Observers at the time pointed out that the use of the clips qualify as fair dealing.  So, it seems that the feud between the Conservatives and the CBC is continuing with this latest spat.

Finally, the long running joke of Canada’s privacy laws continued this month.  After Facebook received multiple fines and forced to settle other cases in other countries over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a judge in Canada has dismissed the case, siding with Facebook.  In his ruling, Justice Michael Manson agreed with Facebook and said that when a user agrees with an End User License Agreement, or EULA, then all protections presumed under PIPEDA ends.  From there, Facebook can do anything it likes with the information they have received.  The ruling also says that you can’t really presume whether or not users will read the EULA – you know, because EULA’s are so easy to read.  We can all assume you’ve read every EULA for every product you have ever bought, right?  Hey, stop laughing!  A judge is trying to be serious here!  Experts commented on the ruling, saying that Canada is an international outlier in this scandal.  After all, if the US FTC can fine Facebook $5 billion over this, why can’t Canada find fault here?  Unfortunately, privacy reform continues to remain stalled.

Video Game Reviews

So, definitely quite a bit more variety in the news this month, that’s for sure.  Now, let’s turn towards entertainment.

Before we get into the video game reviews, I wanted to point out the first impression video’s we’ve posted this month.

For this month’s Steam game, we’ve played Half-Life: Blue Shift.  This unexpectedly popular video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

This month’s Playstation 3 game wound up being Battlefield: Bad Company 2.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

We followed that up with this months XBox 360 game.  For that console, we tried the game, Turok.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

Finally, for this months Playstation 4 game, we checked out Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

As always, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel and turn on notifications to get realtime updates on what video’s we’ve posted.

Now, here are video games we’ve reviewed this month:

First up is Gran Turismo 4 for the Playstation 2.  Long, drawn out, and boring.  This along with forced replays that really makes this game a real drag.  While there are some minor improvements, the problems means this game gets a barely passable 50%.

From there, we tried Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves for the Playstation 2.  Some features got stripped out and ramped up difficulty means the trilogy ends on a slightly weak note.  Still, solid variety and some features remain intact with this game.  So, a game that gets a pretty solid 76%.

After that, we tried Re-Volt for the Nintendo 64.  Impressive variety of driving modes, nice weapons system, and, impressively, a track editor adds a bunch of replay value to this game.  So, this game gets a very nice 86%.

Finally, we round things out with James Bond 007: Nightfire for the Playstation 2.  A good arsenal of weapons, interesting objectives to complete, and an interesting addition of vehicles and devices.  Combine this with some reasonable level design and you got a game that nabs a nice 72%.

Music Reviews

As for music we’ve listened to this month, we’ve got…

Eddie Amador – House Music (Message Mix)

Fresh & Low – New Life

Roy Davis Jr. – Gabrielle (Live Garage)

Miikka Leinonen Feat Kim Kiona – Breath Of The Wild (Original Mix)

Byron Stingily – Get Up (Everybody) (Parade Mix)

Larry Heard – Guidance (Calm)

… and finally, Herbert & Dani Siciliano – Going Round

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month.  This month, our pick of the month belongs to Re-Volt for the Nintendo 64.  Also, be sure to check out Miikka Leinonen Feat Kim Kiona – Breath Of The Wild (Original Mix).


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…and that’s this months episode for April, 2023.  I’m Drew Wilson for Freezenet.  Be sure to check out our website at for all the latest in news and reviews.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Mastodon.  Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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