FreezeNet Podcast: August 2023: Bill C-18 – Failure in Progress

In the 58th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “Bill C-18 – Failure in Progress”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in August 2023.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for August, 2023.  This month’s episode is called “Bill C-18 – Failure in Progress” after Facebook dropping news links in response to this legislation.

This months podcast also features stories about Pascale St-Onge taking over as the new Heritage Minister, the government and media attempting to score cheap political points with the Yellowknife wildfires in this debate.

Additionally, this episode also covers updates on the US KOSA legislation and the UK Online Safety Bill as well.

This episode additionally covers all the usual music and video game reviews as well.  All this and more on this months 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.


Bill C-18 – Failure in Progress

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 58 of the Freezenet official podcast for August, 2023.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Facebook rolls out news link blocking, proving that it wasn’t a bluff

Pascale St-Onge replaces Pablo Rodrigues as Heritage Minister, but doubles down on Bill C-18

… and the media and the government attempts to score cheap political points as they politicize the wildfires while attacking Facebook.

Top Stories

Before I get into the top stories, I wanted to go over the three vlog postings I published this month.  In the first video, I talk about Bill C-18 and how Freezenet is not an eligible news organization.  This is a good thing because by not being an eligible news organization, I shouldn’t, theoretically, be rolled into the news links blocking happening on social media.  In fact, I laid out three reasons why I shouldn’t be hit with the news link blocking.  The caveat to all of this is that it’s not up to the interpretation my myself, a judge, or even the government for that matter.  It’s up to the platforms to determine this – this with no ability to appeal such a decision.  You can check out my full analysis on my site and on YouTube.

In the second video, I talk about my backup plans in the event that my analysis ends up being wrong and my site ends up getting blocked anyway.  In short, I’d probably rework everything to be more YouTube focused.  There’s, obviously, a lot to work out still and I do have my reservations.  Still, if you’d like to see me talk about this, you can check out the full video on my site and on YouTube.

In the third instalment of this month, I updated everyone and talked about the status of Freezenet on Facebook.  So far, so good.  I seem to be completely unaffected despite almost everyone seemingly losing their Facebook pages.  Keeping my fingers crossed, but these early developments are looking good for myself at least.  I’ll continue to watch over things, but if I make it to the end of the month and I’m still alive, I might have somehow managed to survive the scariest threat to Freezenet yet.  At any rate, the whole video of me talking about this is on my site and on YouTube.

Now to the top stories…

After months of Bill C-18 supporters claiming it was all a bluff, Facebook this month began rolling out news link blocking.  Supporters of the legislation insisted that news is far too important for the platforms.  So, in the supporters minds, the platforms would practically shut down overnight without news links powering their platforms.  For heavy users of Facebook, the claims were routinely responded to with belly laughs, but the supporters of the legislation legitimately, and very foolishly, believed this.

Facebooks statement read, in part:

“In order to comply with the Online News Act, we have begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. These changes start today, and will be implemented for all people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada over the course of the next few weeks.

For Canadian news outlets this means:

News links and content posted by news publishers and broadcasters in Canada will no longer be viewable by people in Canada. We are identifying news outlets based on legislative definitions and guidance from the Online News Act.

For international news outlets this means:

News publishers and broadcasters outside of Canada will continue to be able to post news links and content, however, that content will not be viewable by people in Canada.”

I’m sure Rod Sims feels brilliant after suggesting that Canada just demand that international outlets should be blocked too.  This to pressure the platforms to back down on their position.  He really knew how to tame those evil internet platforms, let me tell you.

The large media companies and supporters of the bill immediately freaked out.  For instance, Unifor responded by saying, and I quote, “Meta takes the first step to making their platform(s) irrelevant”.  This with their avatar saying “Save Local News” with a similar hash tag in the post.  Don’t worry, they never really made any sense in this debate in the first place.  So, nothing new here.

Of course, the outrage wasn’t exclusive to a cluelessly run union Twitter account, or “X” account as it’s apparently called.  The CBC released their own response which read, in part, “Meta’s move to deny Canadians access to domestic sources of trusted news and verified information — especially at a time when Canadians are depending on it to stay safe from the harmful effects of unprecedented weather events across much of the country — is irresponsible and an abuse of their market power.”

You know, because if it’s not accessible on Facebook, it’s not really available on the internet at all.  I mean, who actually goes directly to the CBC website in the first place, right?

At any rate, the large media organizations and related groups are seeing the platform they relied on so much suddenly leave.  So, the logical conclusion is to get angry and write angry posts about it – you know, because that will totally help bring the platforms back, honest!

Now, one of the talking points is that Facebook won’t last long doing this.  In fact, the talking point I’ve heard from time to time is that they will back down within a week.  This is part of the much broader talking point of “But Australia!”  Of course, we are about facts, not regurgitating talking points from the least credible players in this whole debate.

One country that underwent the link tax situation was Spain.  Whenever you hear the media players talk about the link tax law, they never want to talk about Spain.  Why?  Because it was an abysmal failure.  Spanish publishers demanded a link tax from Google News at the time.  Google rejected this.  So, Spain passed the law anyway and said that they are going to order Google to pay up.  Google responded by ending Google News for Spanish users.

The impasse lasted a whopping 8 years, so services were eventually restored much more recently.  What caused the return of Google News in Spain?  The government rescinding the law.  What a fun precedent, right?  Big publishing news executives are pressing their hands on their ears begging me to stop right about now.

Of course, media companies went from anger to panic at a pretty rapid pace.  So, they quickly filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau.  Yes, the Competition Bureau is obligated to look into the matters, so that’s nothing new.  Already, the media companies were freaking out that Meta was supposedly “stealing” their news content.  Conspicuously absent, of course, was any evidence at all that confirmed that this was going on, but that’s the talking point they had for the longest time.  With the complaint, however, the media companies are basically saying that it’s illegal for the platforms to refuse to, uh, steal their content.

The filing itself was quite weak.  There’s nothing inherently illegal about Meta not allowing news links onto their platforms.  Still, gosh darn it, the news media is going to try and float this argument anyway.  The complaint reads, in part:

“In our respectful view, the following corrective measures are the minimum of what is required to cease the devastating harm that Meta’s conduct is inflicting on the Canadian news industry:

–    Prohibit Meta from blocking access to news content on its digital platforms accessible in Canada; and

–    Prohibit Meta from discriminating in any way, by algorithm or by any other means, against the content of Canadian news organizations on its digital platforms accessible in Canada.

If Meta refuses to cease its anti-competitive conduct voluntarily, CAB-ACR, NMC/MIC and CBC/Radio-Canada urge the Bureau to file an application before the Competition Tribunal for an order regarding the above corrective measures.”

Yeah, they won’t let us get free advertising from their private properties.  That’s, like, bad… and stuff.  Therefore, they really need to stop their move in this because… wait, who’s this complaint to?  Oh yeah, those guys.  Uh, it’s, uh, anti-competitive?  Yeah, anti-competitive.  You know, because reasons that you can probably figure out… please.

Obviously, none of this is really having an impact with what Meta is doing.  Shortly after, news links started being pulled from Facebook in Canada.  Whole accounts had their content hidden from the Canadian public.  What’s more, content that was manually shared, however few instances there are in the grand scheme of things, are showing messages that say that content like that can’t be viewed in Canada for Canadian users.

The blocking of news links isn’t just for Canadian news sources.  Any news source is getting their links blocked in Canada as well.  This may have been a surprising development for some, but under the law, any news links could mean the platforms would be in violation of the law without agreements.  Some have described these moments as a news links apocalypse as huge swaths of the news sector got nailed.  Whether it is CBC News, The National Post, Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, the BBC, and even Fox News, it all disappeared from view for Canadians.

In response, Canadian law enforcement, the RCMP, have said that they are re-thinking their strategies when it comes to reaching out to the public for anything.  For instance, the Manitoba RCMP said that they will rely heavily on their own social media presence.  Indeed, non-news content is unaffected by the news links blocking.  Government messaging and public safety messages in general still appear on the platforms.  Still, it highlights that RCMP are starting to shift away from relying entirely on the media for their public communications.  The RCMP have said that press conferences and media access will remain, but their focus is going to shift in response to these developments.

With such a huge section of the media suddenly losing their Canadian presence on Facebook, it’s probably not a surprise that there is a lot of collateral damage caused by Bill C-18.  Jeff Green of the Frontenac News spoke about his experience being a victim of Bill C-18’s collateral damage.

In a piece he wrote, he said, in part, “So I guess we are part of this story after all. The implications for the Frontenac News are that one of the means that we use to let people know about stories that we put up on our website each week, and about our services site is gone, so our reach as a news organisation is impacted.”

The development speaks to a much broader point: your position on Bill C-18 doesn’t have an impact on the decision of whether or not your content disappears on the platforms.  Whether you supported the legislation, are against the legislation, or didn’t even have a clue that any of this was going on in the first place, the situation doesn’t discriminate based on political positioning on this issue.  If it’s news content, it’s gone from Facebook.

A curious development also cropped up part way through.  Some news organizations social media employees were finding themselves randomly locked out of their accounts.  Apparently, access through their business portal could be achieved so they can post and edit content that, uh, can’t be seen by Canadians on the platform in the first place.  Of course, this raises a question for Canadian outlets: if your core audience can’t see that content in the first place, what’s the point?

The only thing I can think of is that the publishers in question thought that this was just going to be a temporary thing.  Such thoughts, however foolish they are, were prevelant at the time.  So, it’s possible that the thinking was that the content will be restored in a week or so, so they wanted to keep content well curated for when things return to normal.  As I mentioned with the precedence of Spain, that isn’t likely to happen.

Still, it is likely glitches in the system somewhere along the line causing this.  I don’t know of a reason for Meta to lock whole users out of the accounts entirely, personally.

One talking point that did turn up from time to time was that the whole world is watching what’s going on in Canada.  This was largely from supporters of the legislation turned law.  Well, they weren’t wrong and, apparently, international observers are increasingly focused on one question: how do we avoid becoming the next Canada?  This is likely embarrassing for Bill C-18 supporters, because rather than Bill C-18 being a gold standard for the world to follow, Bill C-18 has become the situation to avoid.

In the unlikely chance that international observers are listening to this podcast, looking for advice, my advice on how to avoid becoming the next Canada is very simple.  That advice is this: don’t pass link tax laws.  It’s bad policy based on false premises.  If you are trying to transfer wealth from the platforms to news businesses, there are better ways of doing that.  A funding model is probably the most prominent concept that is nicely flexible and can be made in any number of ways.  At any rate, again, don’t pass link tax laws.

Obviously, rolling out news links blocking on such a large scale was always going to be a complex process.  So, to the likely surprise of no one paying attention, some hiccups did appear along the way.  There were some reports of websites that probably shouldn’t have been part of the news links blocking being swept into this.  The three that we were able to find was The Beaverton, a satire news website, a music only radio station on Salt Spring Island, and the municipal website of the City of Westmount.  These were the only false positives that we ran across, though.  If there are only three false positives to be had, I think Facebook has done a very impressive job at accurately assessing what is and isn’t a news site on their platform.  This considering how many thousands of news sources they had to sift through.

With even supporters of the legislation realizing that things are going sideways for them on this debate, the increasingly desperate Bill C-18 supporters were left scrambling to come up with something that would turn the tide.  The truth is that they have run out of options a long time ago, so the real question was how long it would take for them to realize this.  Well, one lobbyist organization, FRIENDS, decided to try and launch a second boycott of Facebook.  Already, the advertiser boycott of Meta failed in pretty spectacular fashion, so what’s their scheme this time?

As it turns out, they decided to launch a user boycott.  The idea is that users would stop using the platform and the platforms would have no choice but to surrender their position.  Obviously, this is all under the weapons grade delusion that all of Canada is behind the publishers in their efforts.  So, as the idiotic thinking goes, the publishers are just pulling the trigger to have all of Canada boycott Facebook.  I never intended this to be a comedy podcast, but here’s part their statement on their boycott at the time:

“In throwing their weight around like this, Meta is betting that Canadians will keep flocking back to their platforms, no matter how much disdain they demonstrate for our laws and for our news media. But what if we stood up to their bullying once and for all?

What if we didn’t come back?

On August 23rd and 24th, join us in going dark on Facebook and Instagram.

That may seem like an eternity in social media time, but to Meta, it will seem even longer. At the end of the day, our eyeballs on their platforms are the most valuable commodity Meta has. So, let’s hit them where it hurts.

Meta needs to understand that if our news goes, we go.”

Scott Benzie of Digital First Canada commented on the boycott, saying, “This is satire right? It is constantly mind boggling how out of touch these people are.”

Yeah, no kidding.  Statistics continue to conclude that the biggest reason people use Facebook is to connect with other people.  This followed up by funny pictures and memes.  News drives little traffic for the platforms.  At one point, only 4 in every 1,000 posts on Facebooks main feed links to a news source.  What’s worse is that traffic for news content continues to plummet year over year.  Further, polls indicate that a good chunk of the population isn’t even aware of this fight in the first place.  When people are actually aware of this fight, they are generally sympathetic to the notion that platforms wield too much power over the internet, but don’t think that link taxes are the way to go.

Either way, this boycott is unlikely to succeed.  All of the evidence points to this being a failure waiting to happen.  This despite the likely insistence by some Bill C-18 supporters that all of Canada is behind them on this.

If you can believe it, the picture for Bill C-18 supporters just kept getting worse this month.  One of the talking points we’ve heard from supporters throughout the debate is that news is on the verge of a total collapse.  Businesses are threatened with closures and, unless deals are made soon, news outlets will go under within weeks or months.  This was part of the call to have the bill come into force sooner rather than later.

Now, let’s set aside the point that the platforms are walking.  Specifically, Meta already rolling out news links blocking with Google already saying that they will do the same at some point later on in the future.  How long do you think these supposed deals would take to work out?  Weeks?  A few months?  By this time next year?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are wrong.

The CRTC has unveiled a timeline for how they plan on implementing Bill C-18 on their side of things.  The regulator said that they plan on performing consultations for some of the details on how these deals will work.  This along with how the deal making process will look as far as they are concerned.  Just to crank that knife even further into the whole “urgency” argument, I’ll read out a small snippet of the plans the regulator laid out:

“Late 2024/Early 2025

Once eligible news organizations and arbitrators are in place, mandatory bargaining can begin.”

Ouch!  Yeah, if you are a news outlet that is depending on these deals and only have one year left in terms of survival, yeah, either come up with a different plan or just put your business out of its misery.  Even if you somehow miraculously get the platforms on board, you still have years of waiting before the process can begin.

What’s more, the coming into force of this legislation remains unchanged.  So, for the platforms, they still have to start blocking news links before the legislation comes into force.  That date has seemingly been set to December 19th of this year at the absolute latest.  Otherwise, they’ll get roped into this legislation with the threats of penalties for failing to comply.

What’s more, the core parts of the debate were finalized when this bill received royal assent earlier this year.  There’s no debates or tweaking the new law in any significant way that is meaningful to the platforms.  Debate over the mechanics of the law are over.

At any rate, just when you thought this couldn’t be any more of a cluster of a situation, things just keep getting worse for the supporters of this.

Well, as many Canadians know, this month saw a major cabinet shuffle.  Part of that involved the replacement of the Heritage Minister.  Indeed, Pablo Rodriguez is now out and has moved on to becoming the Transport Minister.  Apologies to those who follow files related to that ministry, you got the raw end of that deal.  Anyway, replacing him is the new Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge.

You might be thinking that with a new Minister, there would be a refreshing change in direction and maybe things can start getting fixed on this file.  Haha, no.  Instead, the new minister ended up doubling down on this whole debate.

Indeed, in the earliest days of her mandate, Quebec Union, FTQ, announced that it suspended their advertising to Meta in response to Meta dropping support for news links.  This in Meta’s efforts to comply with the new law.  FTQs effort was, in part, an attempt to join the failed advertiser boycott of Meta.

FTQ didn’t divulge how much it was spending, but we did some digging through the Facebook transparency reports.  As it turned out, the information we got was that FTQ spent $2,200 for the year of 2022.  As per our previous podcast, Meta earns about $3,721.02 in revenue every second.  So, less than 1 second of revenue was lost as a result of this.  You can probably bet Meta’s response to all of this was, once again…

(Oh no, anyway)

While the move has no shot at moving the needle on anything, St-Onge responded, trying to pretend that this is part of some growing momentum against Meta.  In comments posted on X/Twitter, she said the following:

“Meta is blocking news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada.

Businesses, governments, and organizations across the country are responding.

This momentum says one thing: Canadians know this is important and tech giants need to pay their fair share.”

Yeah, the government reality bubble is real.

For her next great act, St-Onge decided to launch a political attack on Conservatives.  Sure, the whole news sector is about to burn down to the ground as platforms drop support for news links and, sure, they could look at ways of rescinding the law or trying to figure out a way forward for the entire sector.  You know what though?  To heck with that!  That might actually be a productive use of their time and no one’s got time for that!  The best use of the governments time is to play political games.

The political attack from the Heritage Minister was that the Conservatives, clear back in 2021, campaigned with a platform that said that they support a link tax policy.  Yes, that did happen.  You know what else happened in 2021?  My incredible coverage of the general election including a thorough examination of every party platform.   This, obviously, included the Conservative party.  Here’s what I said during my analysis clear back in 2021:

“The Bad:


Mirroring the notorious link tax pushed by the Liberals”

In other words, I called this out as a bad idea all the way back then.  It was a bad idea then and is a bad idea today.

If anything, this partisan attack closely mirrors the false narrative that people who are against this are just Conservative party supporters.  This is absolutely false because people who are against this are from all political stripes.  They recognize that, plain and simple, this is a bad law that is going to backfire spectacularly – including myself.  You know what, we were 100% right.

As a result, the partisan attack ended up being a complete waste of time because it completely ignores the very real issues and consequences of this law in the first place.

On a side note, one Minister that kept his role is François-Philippe Champagne who remains as Industry Minister.  As mentioned, members of the mainstream media filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau, claiming that not allowing news links is somehow anti-competitive.  The governmental office that oversees this is none other than the Industry Ministry which is headed up by Champagne.  Unfortunately, comments he made over on X/Twitter suggests that political interference may now be playing a role in any investigation into Meta in this regard.  His comments read: “I am determined to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that Canadians can have access to reliable news – across all platforms. I fully support the complaint made to the Competition Bureau by Cnd media groups against Meta in their effort to promote a free & independent press.”

For those who are into the world of politics, these comments are hugely problematic.  This means that the Minister that is supposed to be at arms length from the Competition Bureau is actively getting involved in a file for political reasons.  As a result, this is actually a huge political scandal.

Now, the Competition Bureau has been hamstrung in their investigation.  If the Bureau thinks that there is reason to haul Meta into the courts for this, was it because they independently concluded that there is grounds for a legal complaint, or, was it because they were being politically pressured from the very top?  There’s no way for the public to completely believe that it was an arms length investigation afterwards in this scenario.  This all thanks to the comments made by the Minister.

Marc Edge commented in response to this scandal, “the Competition Bureau is a law enforcement agency, like the RCMP . . . there is supposed to be a separation between law enforcement and politicians . . . what if the minister were to publicly declare support for a private complaint to the RCMP? . . . there would be an outcry”

Michael Geist commented, “Nothing to see here: only @FP_Champagne, the Minister responsible for the Competition Act and reviewing the mandate of the Commissioner of Competition, expressing his full support for an application currently before the Bureau against Facebook.”

At any rate, the scandal didn’t go unnoticed.  After all, political interference accusations are flying as a result of the Ministers comments.

While I have seen a lot of nastiness with this debate from supporters of this legislation, the media and the government sunk to new lows this month.  While basic journalistic ethics guarding against straight up lying to the public was tossed aside long ago, making things incredibly infuriating to people like me, what happened this month was so disgusting, so morally reprehensible and shameful, it made the many other moral crimes committed by supports of this legislation seem like small beans by comparison.

As many know, Canada is experiencing the worst fire season in history.  People’s personal health is being negatively impacted, people are being displaced by the wildfires, people’s homes are being burned down, and, worst of all, people have lost their lives to these wildfires this year.  The main priorities in this situation should include figuring out the resources to fight the current wildfires, finding ways of helping these people in this time of crisis, and ensuring people’s personal safety.  The absolute last thing anyone should be doing is finding ways of scoring cheap political points.

Unfortunately, the large media companies and the government chose to do exactly that.  The CBC, for instance, published an article that said, among other things, “Evacuees from the devastating blazes threatening Yellowknife say the ongoing fight between Meta, the owner of Facebook, and Canada’s federal government over who should pay for news has made it harder to spread life-saving information about the wildfires in the Northwest Territories.”

This is misleading on many many fronts.  For one, the main source of life-saving information should not be Facebook in the first place.  For another, government messages and public safety messages are still available on Facebook as well.  So, this critical information is available on there already.  People are getting that information if need be.  The CBC also pushed through all their typical misleading talking points and disinformation about the legislation in the context of the wildfires on top of it all.

Of course, it wasn’t just the media themselves pushing this kind of messaging.  Governments are also trying to push these kinds of talking points.  An example was found in an article in the Vancouver Sun which reads as follows:

“Officials in B.C. and beyond are calling Meta’s Facebook news ban a dangerous and unacceptable ploy as people scramble for information about devastating wildfires across the West.”

“Federal Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez called on the company to lift its news ban in light of the crisis. “What Meta is doing is totally unacceptable,” he told reporters Friday. “I warned them during conversations in the past of the risk of blocking news.””

In other words, the government and the media are trying to turn the victims of these wildfires into mere pawns for their political agendas.  There’s no mincing words here, this is absolutely sickening at the most fundamental basic levels of human decency.  As I said in the article twice, “Now is not the time”.

What’s worse, some have started pushing the conspiracy theory that Meta started blocking news in direct response to the Yellowknife evacuations.  The insinuation is completely false and I devoted an article to debunking this insane idea.  All it takes is a simple timeline of events to prove that this assertion is completely false which I’ll happily repeat here.

June 2nd – I reported on Meta’s announcement of tests to block news links.

June 22nd – I reported on Meta announcing that news link blocking will happen.

July 13th – I reported on Meta turning down the governments capitulated offer.

August 1st – Meta announces it will be rolling out news link blocking on Facebook.

August 9th – I reported on the news link blocks hitting multiple media outlets.

August 18th – Yellowknife issues evacuation order.

So, unless you are suggesting that Meta is somehow run by time travellers that saw the Yellowknife evacuations happening at least two and a half months in advance, then made the decision to block news links in response, the suggestion that this move was done in response to the Yellowknife wildfire evacuations is completely false.

For supporters of the Online News Act, using tragedy to score cheap political points is no big deal because it’s for something they have been pushing for.  In the midst of all of this, Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge remarked that consultations will happen on the new law and that the law hasn’t yet come into force.  The problem with this is that the legislation received Royal Assent.  The core mechanics of the bill are final.  Debate is over.  The only elements that have any wiggle room are largely unimportant details that doesn’t really change anything here.

University law professor, Michael Geist, tackled this very issue by issuing the following comments:

“When News Media Canada says “what we’re saying to Meta is, The regulations aren’t drafted yet. Pick up a pen. Put down your saber and let’s try to work through this together” it’s a fake out designed to deceive. There are no regulations to be discussed that change the core elements of the law. It’s been decided, has received royal assent, and kicks in anytime within the next 120 days. News Media Canada and the associated lobby groups won the battle for Bill C-18. It’s the resulting consequences they don’t like.”

That is pretty much it.  The law isn’t changing in any significant way.  The news link blocks are coming.  For the media, game over.  The consequences of their beloved law are happening whether they like it or not.  In fact, the blocking of news links have already been happening on Meta platforms and Google is set to follow suit at some point shortly after.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, also spoke about the issue.  In a speech during a Cabinet retreat, he pushed the standard nonsense talking points about how it is somehow the platforms responsibility to pay for links the media posts on Meta platforms.  He even suggested that Meta was the one at fault for… complying with the law.  Here’s Trudeau:

(Trudeau clip)

Yet, as he trashed Meta for making money off of Canadian’s, he apparently had no problem continuing to shovel money towards Meta in the first place.  This month, Trudeau released over 100 ads on Meta, sending plenty of advertising dollars towards Facebook.  You would think that if he is so outraged by these developments, he would take all those advertising dollars and put it towards the very journalism outlets he so heavily defends.  Apparently, that’s not his style even as he encouraged the failed advertising boycott of Meta last month.  Self-awareness is really not his strongest suit in this debate, is it?

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

Other Stories Making News

The US is certainly no stranger to bad internet laws.  One of those is the so-called Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA.  It’s a bi-partisan bill that is sold as a bill to protect children online.  In a nutshell, if you want to look at some posts online, you’ll be required to submit identification like a drivers license.  The information submitted has to accurately identify who you are and where you live.  This applies to platforms, so you would be required to hand that kind of information over to them.  Failure on the platforms part to collect such information from ordinary US citizens would mean that the platforms could receive financial penalties for failing to collect such information.

Critics have pointed out that the bill is flatly unconstitutional, first and foremost.  What’s more, it is a threat to the free expression of people like members of the LGBT community.  This because relevant information could be classified as dangerous to minors and requiring government ID to access it.  Trust me, such communities don’t need to be told why anonymous access to information about gender identity, among other things, is so important.  They know very very well why anonymous access to such information is so important for a number of people.

While supporters of the bill have claimed that lawmakers have fixed the bill, TechFreedom offered a great rundown of why the major problems of the bill still haven’t been addressed.  You can check out the open letter for all the details via our website.

Bill C-11, now called the Online Streaming Act, made headlines this month – again.  Lobby groups have insisted that the regulations would not go after user generated content and other forms of online content.  Critics, of course, never bought that talking point as the law clearly said that such content is scoped into the law – and they are correct on that counterpoint.  Well, lobbyists have started to not bother hiding it any more.  Lobbyist organization, ACCORD, called for the CRTC to regulate not just user generated content, but also video games, and even audio podcasts.  Despite insistence that there is no manipulation of the algorithm, the lobbyist group instead called for “minimizing” algorithmic manipulation.  This is kind of like saying that you want to only partially compromise the safety of a vehicle.  Either the algorithms are manipulated or they are not.  There’s no middle ground here.

At any rate, the lobbyists are starting to not bother hiding any of this any more, so there’s that… I guess.

Maclean’s magazine received some backlash this month over an obvious scaremongering article they published.  In short, the article basically claimed that video games are just another form of cocaine and that any amount of time playing video games is dangerous.  The article also said that it is destroying the youth of the nation and tries to support a lawsuit that shirks basic parenting in favour of blaming video game makers for societal ills.  Unsurprisingly, there was little evidence used to support the article’s claims – probably not a surprise because actual science says that there is little to no evidence that video game addiction is a widespread chronic condition.  At any rate, the magazine took a considerable credibility hit with that article.

The UK is inching closer to passing the horrific Online Safety Bill.  The legislation is problematic on three fronts.  First, it effectively bans effective encryption.  This by demanding that all encrypted communications have a back door for only the good guys to access information.  An example of this is law enforcement.  Anyone with any credibility in the world of security knows full well that this is an impossible ask.  The security implications, unfortunately, are wide ranging and spans well past the UK borders.

The second major problem is that it criminalizes offensive speech.  This by tackling so-called “online harms”.  Offensive content could subject people to jail time as a result.

Thirdly, the bill requires age verification of anything deemed ‘erotic content’. This while requiring that online activity be reported straight back to the government after.

Probably little surprise that critics are warning that this bill could cause significant damage to the overall internet – not to mention massively compromising the privacy of users in the UK as well.

French publisher, the AFP, has filed a lawsuit against X/Twitter in France.  The suit alleges that X/Twitter has failed to pay publishers under France’s link tax laws.  It’s a legal move so bizarre, even Elon Musk realized just how ridiculous it is by saying, “This is bizarre. They want us to pay *them* for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?”  Yeah, us Canadians are, unfortunately, all too familiar with the absurdity of this.

Canadian media company, Linus Media Group, the people behind the famed YouTube channel, LinusTechTips among other channels, has caught controversy this month.  Questions emerged after several video’s they released allegedly contained factual errors and inaccuracies.  A number have accused the channel of rushing content out the door rather than focusing on accurate information.  This while apparently auctioning off a prototype Billet Labs sent them.  A number of these inaccuracies and issues were compiled by another YouTube channel, Gamers Nexus.  While the initial responses were also controversial, Linus Sebastian posted a video announcing that they will be pausing video uploads while they, among other things, audit their video’s for accuracy and clean house to ensure accurate information is provided to viewers.  Here’s a sample from that video:

(Linus Clip)

So, a lot of reworking is going to happen from the sounds of things.  Here’s hoping there are better days ahead for everyone.

Reports have surfaced in the US that referral traffic from Meta platforms to news publishers are continuing to face a decline.  The amount of the drops vary, but numbers being thrown around include 30% and 40% drops.  One publisher said that “Facebook nuked everyone’s traffic”.  The report really runs against the claims that platforms depend highly on news content and, as a result, wouldn’t exist without it.  In fact, the report offers even more evidence that platforms are not only depending less on news content and sending referral traffic to publishers, but also the fact that such traffic is continuing to face steep declines as well.  As a result, the delayed California law, the CJPA, which some refer to as California’s link tax law, faces an even steeper challenge of even remotely being successful.  That piece of legislation was delayed until next year.

Finally, the CRTC released some guidelines on how it plans on implementing the Online Streaming Act.  During the debates, when it was still called Bill C-11, supporters, and even the CRTC itself, said that regulating the internet is essentially no big deal.  Apart from third party auditors as required by law, no additional resources and manpower is necessary because the CRTC totally has it all under control.  Heh, yeah right.  Obviously, critics never believed them for reasons that should be ridiculously obvious.

This month, the talking point took a considerable and potentially fatal blow.  In releasing it’s plans, the CRTC stated, among other things, “the Commission is of the view that deferring the examination of any new application or complaint of any nature would allow the public and potential stakeholders, many of whom have limited resources, to focus their efforts on participating in the various Commission proceedings aimed at modernizing the Canadian broadcasting system.”

The CRTC also said, “The Commission considers that it would be preferable for all to benefit from the measures and changes that will result from modernizing the Canadian broadcasting regulation framework before pursuing their regular activities.”

The CRTC further stated, “the Commission announces today that it will defer the examination of any new application or complaint relating to radio during the implementation of its regulatory plan for modernizing the Canadian broadcasting system, for a period of approximately two years.”

Hahaha, yeah, so much for regulating the internet being no big deal.  Two years of clearing the schedule???  All to handle implementing a bill people swore up and down was no big deal?  Yeah, if it wasn’t obvious before, it is now.  This is destined to not go smoothly.  I guess the doubts of people like us were highly justified after all!

Video Game Reviews

Yeah, it’s been a month here on Freezenet.  Let’s switch gears and talk about entertainment.

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

For this month’s Steam game, we played System Shock 2.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

This month’s Playstation 3 game is Dead Space.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

From there, we played the XBox 360 title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

Finally, this months Playstation 4 game is The Last of Us Part II.  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 Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride for the Nintendo DS.  A game that fixes a number of problems from previous titles, but some lingering problems still persist.  This one gets an OK 66%.

From there, we played Destruction Derby Arenas for the Playstation 2.  A game with redeeming factors, but still ends up being a disappointing end to the series.  Dated graphics and short races didn’t really help matters.  With some fun factors still present, though, this one gets a reasonable 70%.

Next up is Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal for the Playstation 2.  Plenty of features that made previous games great continue to be in this one.  Additional tweaks to the game continued to make things interesting.  Great graphics and soundtrack really added to the overall experience.  Overall, this game gets a great 86%.

Finally, we played Doom for the Game Boy Advance.  Impressive that so much was crammed onto such a small and lower powered portable console, though gameplay can be pretty clunky at times.  Still, this game gets a solid 70%.

Music Reviews

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

Fastball – The Way

Semisonic – Closing Time

Goo Goo Dolls – Iris

Eve 6 – Inside Out

Barenaked Ladies – One Week

Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

Cake – Never There

Aerosmith – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

… and finally, Vincent de Moor – Flowtation 2001

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month.  This month, our pick of the month belongs to Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal for the Playstation 2.


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…and that’s this months episode for August, 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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