FreezeNet Podcast: June 2023: The Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special 2

In the 56th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “The Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special 2”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in June 2023.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for June, 2023.  This month’s episode is entitled the “Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special 2” because we continue our in-depth coverage of what was said within the senate during the Bill C-18 hearings.

This episode also covers the ultimate passage Bill C-18 as well as the meltdown going on at Reddit.

This episode also features all the usual music and video game reviews.  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.


It’s the Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special 2

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 56 of the Freezenet official podcast for June, 2023.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

As Bill C-18 becomes law, Meta says it will block news links

Our Coverage of the Bill C-18 senate hearings continues

… and Reddit in Meltdown.  In response, alternatives like KBin and Lemmy sees massive growth

Top Stories

Before I get into the top stores, I wanted to mention that I have uploaded not one, but two vlog postings this month.

In the first video, I talk about what Bill C-18 is.  I was pretty much talking about Bill C-11 for every video up until this point, so I decided to broaden my horizons by explaining the basics of this bill.  What’s more, I talk about why Bill C-18 is bad for everyone.  Worth noting is that this video was shot and posted before the bill became law.  You can check out that video directly on the site or on YouTube.

In the second video, I talk about one of my articles going viral on KBin.  In it, I thanked those who supported my site over on that platform.  Of course, what I also did was go into the future of Reddit alternatives.  After seeing the spike that I did, I point out that if such a spike can be generated in just a little over a week of the platforms growth, one can only imagine how much bigger such spikes will be further down the road should that growth continue.  You can check out that video directly on the site and on YouTube.

Now, to the top three…

As the Bill C-18 hearings began to reach the end, it seems that the obvious fallout has already begun to appear.  With the outcome of the legislation seemingly becoming a foregone conclusion this month, Meta announced early on that it will begin test blocking news links for 5% of Canadian users on their platforms.  Up until this moment, the large media outlets and Bill C-18 supporters have been saying that the announcements of news links being blocked is just a big fancy bluff.  After all, platforms would never block their content.  I mean, the whole world revolves around news and the big media outlets produce said news, so therefore, they would never actually do that!

Uh, so far, it looks like that is exactly what Meta is doing with this test.  The thing in all of this is that the large outlets have been pushing for this bill and ignoring all criticisms in the process.  Honestly, I have little sympathy for the large outlets thanks to this.  So, this really is a case of the classic internet meme of eff around and find out.  With this test, the large media outlets are getting a preview of “finding out” as a result.

In response to the development, it seems as though the large media outlets started growing a little bit nervous.  Gee I wonder why!  The CBC brought in Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, to answer some questions.  Obviously, the media outlet was looking to see if there was some sort of plan “B” in this situation.  Let’s just say the interview doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the situation.

(Rodriguez clip)

For any sane person listening to that, the natural response to that would be “what the heck was that???”  To be fair, though, on good days, the minister is barely aware of his own surroundings.  Giving non-answer talking points, regardless of the severity of the situation, is pretty par for the course at this point.

As luck would have it, at around the same time that disaster of an interview took place, findings of a new study were released.  The findings came from the UK’s Press Gazette and it found that between 2018 and now, referral traffic from platforms to news websites have plummeted.  On Facebook, the numbers went from, in that time period, a height of nearly 30% of traffic to just over 10% this year.  On Twitter, in that same time period, traffic went from nearly 10% to just over 4%.  There’s no two ways about that, this is a huge drop off.

The numbers paint a very ominous picture.  Here is yet more evidence that platforms don’t really rely much on news content on their platforms.  They are sending very little traffic in the first place.  So, it’s a sign that they aren’t actually benefiting from news a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.  Yes, the news websites depend a lot on these platforms, but that is generally a question of scale.  On the one hand, for the large platforms, all they see is a tiny sliver of traffic being related to news websites.  News websites, however, are significantly smaller and that tiny sliver is sometimes more than enough to stay afloat.  As I’ve said all along, publishers need platforms far more than platforms need publishers.  This is just further proof that this is an accurate assessment of things.

Let’s face it, the situation is already looking bad.  So, unsurprisingly, the media went running to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Maybe he has some answers and can detail what his ace up his sleeve is in this scenario.  There has to be a plan “B” in this scenario, right?  Well…

(Trudeau clip)

Yes, you heard that right.  In response, Trudeau is going to be very very disappointed in Meta.  So, all we have to do is shame Mark Zuckerberg into just giving up this fight – and you know that if there is anyone who can be shamed into doing things, it’s Mark Zuckerberg.  Yeah, you knew it was impossible for me to get through that with a straight face.

Sometime after that, the Canadian senate passed Bill C-18. The results of the vote was 51-23.  As a result, they sent the bill to the House of Commons for that level of governments final approval.

You could really get a sense that some of the larger media companies were starting to ask themselves “What have we done?”  Well, Bell certainly wasn’t in the mood to wait around.  Shortly after, they announced that they will be laying off 1,300 employees as well as selling or closing down 9 radio stations.  While there were many dimensions to this story, one dimension stood out for me.  That was comments made by Robert Malcolmson, Bell’s chief legal and regulatory officer.  He admitted that he doesn’t see Bill C-18 having the effect it was supposed to have if the platforms start blocking news links.  Yeah, looks like the level of panic is increasing for those who were pushing so hard for this bill.  Even for them, the “finding out” seems to be the real deal.

For the government, it was full steam ahead for this bill – consequences be darned.  The government shut down debate on this bill shortly after it reached the House of Commons for a final vote.  The move made it crystal clear that almost nothing was going to stop this bill from becoming law.  In the midst of this, the government rejected two amendments made by the senate.  One of those amendments that was rejected had to do with compromise language.  It was apparently meant to encourage Facebook to go along with this bill.  The move caught the attention of an increasingly nervous Globe and Mail who seems to be worried that this could make the situation even worse.

As an aside, I published a piece talking about 5 very real problems that the bills supporters claims the bill will solve.  In actuality, however, the bill will either not solve those problems or make the problems worse.  The problems I identified as selling points for the bill are as follows:

1. The Monopoly-Like Power of Facebook and Google

2. The Lack of Regulation in the Ad-Tech Sector

3. The Lack of Privacy Laws to Protect Users from Data Trackers Online

4. The Growing News Deserts in Small Town Communities

5. The Decreasing Funding in Journalism

At one point or another, the bill was sold on solving any one of these problems.  In the article, I go into detail why these problems are either not going to be solved by this bill, or, the bill will actually make these problems worse.  I’d go into specific detail, but this podcast is already going to be a long one, so feel free to check out the full article on my website.

In the mean time, the “finding out” phase intensified.  Bill C-18 passed the House of Commons 208 to 113 and headed towards the senate for final approval.  When that happened, Meta announced that it will be ending support for news links in Canada.  The wording of their announcement seemed to be quite important, so here’s the important bit:

“Today, we are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) taking effect.”

The wording here is quite important.  Some people out there, including at least one politician, took the bill receiving royal assent as the moment the news blocks were going to happen.  This is actually not what Meta said.  Meta said that the blocking will take effect before the legislation takes effect.  There is that time window in this law between the bill becoming law and when it comes into force.  If you don’t believe me, look up the legislation yourself and scroll down to the Coming into Force provisions.  Don’t worry, it’s very easy to find.  Just scroll to the bottom of the bill and then scroll up to the last title in the bill.  It’s the last section of the bill.

Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, but this is where the clarity ends.  Indeed, Meta has time to tweak and continue their tests to ensure that they scrubbed everything captured in the bill from their platforms.  The downside is the fact that the section talks about sections of the bill coming into force whenever the Governor in Council decides.  When is that?  I legitimately don’t know.  The time window exists, but how long that time window exists seems yet to be determined.

After that, it happened.  The legislation passed the Canadian senate and received royal assent shortly afterwards.  On June 23, 2023, Canada officially lost the right to freedom of the press.  It was a very tragic day, but one that seemed to be a long time coming.  The bill is now known as the Online News Act since it is now a law and no longer legislation.  There is a provision that supposedly allows news websites to opt out of the bill, but whether that matters or not remains to be seen.

What we do know is that some lobbyists are continuing to remain oblivious to the damage they were about to bring down on the very organizations they supposedly represented throughout this process.  One quote pretty much summed up the level of delusion they are showcasing these days:

“The passing of the Online News Act is an essential step in providing much needed support for Canadian journalism. Compelling foreign tech giants to enter into compensation agreements with news outlets corrects a market imbalance that has threatened the very existence of the Canadians news sector and, by extension, our democracy,” said Marla Boltman of FRIENDS. “We wholeheartedly applaud Parliament for getting this challenging bill across the finish line while staring down the barrel of Google and Facebook’s threats to block news in Canada. Our hope is that these foreign tech giants will now abandon their intimidation tactics and show the Canadian democratic process the respect it deserves.”

Yeah, and you thought I was exaggerating when I say that the bills supporters were relying on magical thinking and pixie dust to make all the problems go away.  This is literally one lobbyist saying something along the lines of, ‘boy, we sure hope the platforms give up their position and do everything we say now!’  That’s… what they are banking on… the platforms just throwing away all of their power and licking the boots of big publishing because reasons.  Sorry, but the lobbyists have no bargaining chip here.  Unless the miracle they hope for comes to fruition – and in that scenario, they should buy a lottery ticket – those platforms are pulling up stakes for the very services the news sites rely on.  You are screwed and you don’t even know it!  Absolutely unbelievable.

While all of that happened outside of the senate, what about what happened within the senate?  Well, we are happy to take you inside with what we heard.  This month, we continued with the second segment of hearing six.  To catch you up, in the leadup to this hearing, a number of lobbyists were able to come forward to try and convince senators that this is a good bill.  Despite getting many many kicks at the can, each effort fell flat.  Whether it was thanks to contradictory statements or being unable to answer questions at all thanks to the use of talking points that completely miss what was asked, the efforts were falling flat.  You would think that they would come up with a viable and convincing line of reasoning to explain why this legislation is needed, but the lobbyists were unable to offer anything like that.

So, when it came to selling the legislation, one lobbyist organization decided to take a rather different approach: lying their arses off.  Here’s Benoit Chartier and Sylvain Poisson of Hebdos Québec:

(Chartier clip)

I mean, wow, the two speakers would be hard pressed to cram any more lies into such a short period of time.  It was like rapid fire machine gun lies.  This podcast would probably go on forever if I dissected all the lies and misleading statements that were found in that clip.  So, I decided to condense my thoughts down to statistics.  After analyzing what was said, I was able to tally all the lies and misleading statements that was said in that clip.  In total, I counted 9 outright lies and 11 misleading statements in a clip that lasted less than 5 minutes.  These are Trump levels of disinformation here.  Kind of incredible, but really, when you can’t sell the legislation on facts and reason, you may as well pound the table and lie about it instead.  I mean, at that point, why not?

So, with that, we entered into week 4 of these hearings.

Hearing 7, segment 1 was a rather exciting hearing for me.  I know, it’s weird to preface that when we are talking about another hearing packed with lobbyists, but there is quite the story that led up to what happened.  As you no doubt know, I applied to be a witness in these hearings.  First of all, I’m a journalist running my own website, so I know the ins and outs of running a small website operation.  Second of all, my specialty involves, in part, covering the very story of Bill C-18 from a technological, business, and copyright perspective.  So, as far as I was concerned, I was uniquely qualified to actually appear.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected.  I mean, I get it, I’m not a multi-millionaire.  What’s more, I am not a world famous celebrity as recognized by the mainstream media – nor would I ever be recognized because, well, I’m from the internet and for the major mainstream media, the internet is the bad place we don’t talk about other than saying that only bad stuff happens here.  So, in a game that is only meant for the rich and famous, being neither rich nor famous means you have no shot.  Knowledge in the area matters very little.

The thing is, just because I wasn’t there doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t have an influence on the proceedings.  As you heard in a previous podcast, I reported on the massive layoffs at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp operations in Australia.  1,250 employees were laid off, accounting for 1 in every 20 employees.  At the time, my comments were that this sort of thing shouldn’t be happening in Australia.  Australian news organizations were getting their deals, they were getting the financial boons they were asking for, and lobbyists were selling Australia as a success story in journalism.  So, how can you, on one hand, have all these lobbyists saying that Australia is experiencing a new and bright era in journalism?  This as some say that it has never been a better time in to be a journalist.  Then on the other hand, the biggest beneficiary is flooding its work place with pink slips, laying off journalists left and right.  Something clearly doesn’t add up here.

So, after reporting on the story, I actually contacted Senator Paula Simons through Mastodon so that she was made aware of this.  I got a response to this saying that this is relevant to the debate… very relevant indeed.  Fast forward to the hearing and you can imagine my excitement when I heard this. Note that responses came from Phillip Crawley and later Bryan Myles:

(Crawley Clip)

This was quite the interesting clip.  If you have any interest in this debate at all, at least one of those points was really interesting to you.  Obviously, I took interest in the response to the question about the layoffs where it seemed that the Australian model was not exactly a bed of roses.  The lobbyists really didn’t have an answer to that.  The fact is that they couldn’t give reassurances that if they get this boatload of money, the same wouldn’t happen here in Canada.  The answer that job losses is already happening here in Canada really didn’t address anything because if we are stopping the job losses, why was the Australian model not up to the task?  Are we repeating a hidden mistake here?  There’s no way to know because the lobbyists certainly didn’t have an answer and I think this raised quite the big red flag.  It’s a sign that I may be on to something here.

The question ended up sparking a lot of really interesting other branches of discussion as well which was quite unexpected.

For Senator Simons, who later said that she was reeling by Crawleys answer on that, the idea that the Globe and Mail is actually paying Meta to promote their content while at the same time arguing that the platforms are stealing their content was shocking to her.  Not to sound too egotistical here, but this is actually what I covered in my 10 page brief to the senate in the first place.  While the details from Crawley were a little sketchy, I know I can fill in some of the blanks.  Facebook offers the ability to “boost” your posts through paid advertising.  Whatever content you want promoted, you can pay Meta money to make it more visible to select audiences.  This isn’t really anything new to me as I’ve known about this for years now.  Either senators read my brief and didn’t believe me when I said this or senators never bothered reading my brief at all and missed this point entirely.  Either way, at least one senator was surprised by this revelation that large media outlets are paying platforms to boost their content.  Thank you Facebook transparency pages for telling me all of this in advance.  So, what Crawley told senators made perfect sense.  They pay Meta for services rendered – boosting their content.  I’m glad we are all on the same page now.

A third branch that some might find interesting is the fact that two lobbyists admitted that their organization depends heavily on platforms.  Should the platforms no longer support their sites, they would be hurt quite a bit by that thanks to a likely severe drop in traffic.  Again, nothing new, but it’s kind of fun hearing lobbyists confirm what you have been saying all along.

Finally, there was the talk of generative AI.  This has been covered quite a bit as a sign that the sands of the internet are in the process of shifting.  We may see this bill lose relevance soon as a result.  I’m sceptical of anyone who says that a glorified auto-complete – which is what ChatGPT is in the end – will end all of humanity, but there will very easily be impacts at a much smaller scale.  Search developers are incorporating similar technologies into their search engines.  It’ll be easier to get answers to general questions as a result.  It may make an impact on how much content is generated and raises the question of whether content written by AI should be compensated or not.  Ultimately, the question many others have raised is whether all of this will render the bill obsolete months from now as Crawley stated.

So, really neat how one little tip to one senator resulted in that much thought provoking commentary in the first place – and from lobbyists to boot.

Moving on to segment two of hearing seven, we actually heard from digital publishers.  Now, digital publishers are also quite terrified of this bill and know full well what the consequences of this bill are.  The hearing had a lot of interesting commentary as it featured Jen Gerson, Jeff Elgie, and Jesse Brown.  One angle that gets less attention is what online news rooms look like and why they may not be eligible under Bill C-18.  Senator Rene Cormier asked Jesse Brown about how digital starts ups could get hurt by this bill and Brown’s response was rather interesting:

(Brown Clip)

The concept of the micro news room did get discussed more later on in the hearing, but one thing that struck me was the concept of the term “micro news room”.  If you know anything about my long storied career going way back, prior to Freezenet, I worked for two other websites.  First, I worked for Slyck.  Later on, I worked for ZeroPaid.  After that, more than a decade ago, I started up Freezenet.  Throughout my entire career, I was basically working in what could be described as micro news rooms.  A typical setup consists of one or two people working on a site and people like me getting hired to help write news remotely.  I think the largest team of writers I ended up working with was over half a dozen people, but for the most part, I was working with one to three other writers.  Now, obviously, I work for myself.  In all that time, I never really thought of the environment I was working in as a “micro news room”.  Decentralized remote work, perhaps, but not really a micro news room.

Still, I think the term fits quite well and is the reality of a lot of online news start ups.  You have maybe two or three people working on the site with one or two people actually writing the content for the site.  Definitely far from your standard traditional news room of close to a dozen journalists working in cubicals to say the least.  Unsurprisingly, as Brown pointed out, a lot of them will get excluded despite this amendment even though they represent a lot of small start ups across the country.

Now, there was a very controversial moment towards the end of the hearing when Senator Peter Harder attempted to discredit the witnesses.  This by suggesting that their business models depends on the collapse of the traditional outlet to work, so, therefore, their comments can be treated with a grain of salt.  It was a really asinine question and, unfortunately, there was some technical issues when Elgie attempted to answer.

(Elgie clip)

For me, this was a real patience tester and it was quite a cheap shot by the senator in question.  A number of observers expressed outrage at the question because it was rather inappropriate and ill-informed.  Elgie, for his part, handled the question quite well even over top of the technical issues that hit.  I mean, here are these witnesses giving their honest feedback to the senate.  In response, the senator just disregarded all of that and tried to pretend that witnesses, like Elgie, had some sort of ulterior motive – an ulterior motive that frankly doesn’t seem to exist in the first place.  So, frustrating to say the least, but not entirely unsurprising from a core sponsor of the bill.  After all, it plays into how anyone criticizing the bill, regardless of intent, is one of the bad guys that must be defeated.  This because the platforms have a grand conspiracy with many people on the take to defeat this holy bill.  Yeah, not cult-like mentality at all!

After that, we moved on to the first segment of hearing 8.  This hearing was probably the most surreal hearing out of all of them up until now.  This is because this one featured lobbyists and former government officials from Australia.  In short, this was, in my mind, the blatant foreign interference hearing given the huge efforts to try and convince senators to pass this bill.

Surreal sight aside, Senator Simons, to my pleasant surprise, brought up the massive layoffs in Australia.  Probably not a surprise that the witnesses couldn’t dodge the question fast enough, though.  Full disclosure, former chair of the ACCC, Rod Sims, was having connection problems, so he wasn’t able to get in on this part of the hearing.  With that, here’s Senator Simons asking the questions and Emma McDonald, Lawrence Gibbons, and Chris Gogos answering.

(McDonald clip)

That has to be one of the most unconvincing arguments I’ve heard in these hearings.  What do you say about the layoffs?  I can’t speak for him.  Are you able to say that you are getting 35% of your expenditures paid?  That’s under a Non-Disclosure Agreement.  Can we ensure that the money actually goes towards journalism?  I can’t say.  I think Senator Simons had pretty good reason to be frustrated at that moment.  I mean, it’s all well and good to say that the bill is great and wonderful, however weird it is that another country is lobbying your government, but you need to at least give concrete reasons as to why this is.  Those were not concrete answers to say the least.  I mean, you could mistaken the witnesses for members of British intelligence at that point with all that brick wall ‘no comment’ answers, there.

Finally, we reached the second segment of hearing 8.  In that hearing, we heard from a number of prominent voices in this debate.  At one point, Senator Pamela Wallin asked about the negative implications of shipping the money to large heavily subsidized players like the CBC. This while largely leaving out the smaller players.  Matt Hatfield and Philip Palmer had some interesting responses to that.

(Hatfield clip)

Indeed, there are a lot of anti-competitive implications for this bill.  If we direct a stack of cash to large organizations, you are automatically granting, from a business perspective, a competitive advantage to established players over the smaller start ups.  Palmer, meanwhile, expanded on that point and basically painted a picture of just how messy this bill really is – to the point where it is questionable what it’s objectives really are.  No question that so much about this bill is a huge mess and the implications are quite severe thanks in part to that.

With that, we entered into week 5 of the hearings.  This ultimately proved to be the final week of these hearings.  I’d go into the details of this final week of hearings, but I ran out of time before the end of the month.  So, for the sake of completion, I’ll finish off the last of these hearings in next months podcast.

Now, you might look at the Twitter story and think that there is no way that such a thing will repeat.  After all, Elon Musk is pretty much writing the textbook on how not to run a large social media platform.  Between charging money for API access, treating employees like garbage, not paying bills, allowing legal liability to just stack up like crazy, and finding ways of driving users to competitors like Mastodon, this has to be one of those unique one off incidences, right?

Well, this month, we quickly became familiar with another name: Steve Huffman.  Huffman just so happens to be a current CEO of Reddit which, of course, is another one of the massively huge platforms out there.  As it turns out, he is a major admirer of Elon Musk.  Oh no, indeed.

Sure enough, Huffman has been doing significant damage to Reddit.  The big move he made that really started propelling him to being notorious was to begin charging for access to its API.  Now, API access is a big thing because it allows third parties to develop apps and plugins to increase the functionality of a service – in this case, Reddit.  On Reddit, this access has allowed third parties to develop tools such as better moderation tools for mods, better usability for people with disabilities, and enable a better overall experience for users in general.

Now, had this been about a slight change in design or the API access prices being, like, five bucks, the controversy probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as severe.  The thing is, he was charging exorbitant amounts of money.  A real flashpoint was a developer who created the Apollo app.  He was asked for fork over, if you can believe it, $20 million.  Keep in mind, so much about what makes Reddit tick is volunteer work.  So, for reasons that should be extremely obvious, the developer said that they were shutting down the app in response.

The absurdity of the situation, along with other actions, really galvanized the user base.  Moderators took action and took their large communities private.  Some initially said that they were going to go for 48 hours while demanding a reversal to some of these changes.  For a lot of observers, this drove home the point that users really are the ones who are in charge of the platform.

Well, Huffman chose not to back down and said that this is all just a bunch of noise that will just burn out on its own.  Yeah, you can imagine that this only served to get the mods to dig in their heels.  Many of them changed their minds and said that the protests will go on indefinitely instead.

While all of that was going down, several alternatives popped up hoping to fill the void left behind by Reddit.  Three of them are KBin, Lemmy, and Beehaw.  One thing all of them have in common is the fact that they are built on the ActivityPub protocol.  The practical benefit is that content seen on one platform can be seen on another.  So, they really aren’t actually competing with each other so much as they are different skins that users can choose.  If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because Mastodon, the platform users flocked to when Twitter melted down, also happens to be built on ActivityPub.  So, everyone is flocking to the same protocol and users on all four apps can very easily communicate with each other in the process.  Yes, astonishingly, history is repeating itself here.

A little while later, I checked in on the story to see about writing a followup.  Sure enough, a lot had transpired since that first report.  After the blackout protests hit Reddit, Huffman was threatening to remove any moderators that were part of the protests.  This all in an effort to re-open the sub-reddits that had gone private.  In response, some of those subreddits did open, but the only posts that were appearing were pictures of John Oliver.  The war between Huffman and Reddit didn’t seem to be a one off temporary thing.  As a result, more and more users were flocking to the ActivityPub alternatives.  It really felt like the downfall of Twitter all over again at that particular moment.

As mentioned earlier, the article I wrote here also went viral on KBin, so I’ll just repeat it here as well: thank you KBin users for giving my website the time of day.  Feel free to keep sharing my links as that is greatly appreciated.

This has definitely, without a doubt, been a busy month here on Freezenet.  So here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

One of the promises that came out of the push for the Rogers Shaw merger was that the merger would mean greater investment and more jobs.  Unfortunately, now that the approval from government has happened and the merger is now complete, it seems that keeping those promises are not much of a priority any more.  Rogers has allegedly started redirecting $13 million from formerly Shaw properties like Global News to Rogers properties like CityNews.  The move has caused controversy as Global properties began applying for additional funding to make up the sudden budget shortfalls.  Definitely a predictable outcome of the merger to say the least.

The dumpster fire that is Twitter is continuing to be, well, a dumpster fire.  The Musk run platform has reportedly pulled out of European voluntary codes to fight disinformation.  The move has caused some to speculate that Twitter might be preparing to exit the European Union altogether.

One thing that was absent from the debate of Bill C-11, or the Online Streaming Act, is the fact that the governments policy direction has been locked away from public scrutiny.  So, when word came down that this direction might soon get released, the word was met with mixed reaction.  This is because the CRTC is heading up a consultation with fast approaching deadlines, leaving organizations and individuals with little to work with when responding to how the regulator plans on implementing the law.  It also drew fire from critics who suggest that this move comes as a coordinated effort between the CRTC and the government – a relationship that should be arms length.

Shortly after, the policy direction was released, but in draft form.  This raised even more controversy because the text can change at any time.  This while the CRTC consultation process is moving ahead.  Essentially, respondents may not be in possession of an accurate document and may be unable to offer proper analysis on the situation.  The document itself continues the theme of contradiction where one portion says that user generated content is out while, at the same time, suggesting that the government intends on promoting government approved material over other content.  At the same time, it also pushes to manipulate the outcomes of algorithms of platforms, effectively trying to dictate who succeeds and who fails on platforms.

With the deadline fast approaching, Freezenet issued it’s own submissions to the CRTC consultation.  One of the recommendations we made was to exempt platforms that deal primarily with user generated content.  The CRTC was already offering a list of exemptions for platforms and asked if these exemptions are sufficient.  So, we took the opportunity to recommend to the CRTC to make it official that user generated content is out by exempting those platforms.

While we did participate in consultation 2023-140, we also participated in consultation 2023-139.  We were able to push through the restrictions, heavy amounts of dense reading, and tight deadlines to offer a second large response.  We pushed to have user generated content exempt from heavy regulation among other things.

Of course, the tight deadlines became a problem for a lot of organizations.  Many said that they couldn’t formulate a proper response.  So, in light of the lack of a policy direction and the short turnaround times, many organizations requested a delay in the deadlines so people can offer a more comprehensive response.  That was last month.  This month, it seems that the CRTC denied that request, opting only to extend consultation 2023-138.  Critics responded to the denial by saying that the CRTC is not serious in receiving feedback for its consultation.  This while approaching this process as a simple box ticking exercise.

Later on, I did get a chance to browse through some of the responses posted by others.  While browsing them, a theme throughout the responses was complaints about a lack of time.  Organizations that normally offer comprehensive responses instead chose to point out that a proper response could not be written in time and, instead, ask that the CRTC have them appear before them at a later time so they can offer a better response.  Either way, the comically tight deadline of Monday really did have an impact on the responses.

The Canadian government appears to be seeking to resurrect the Lawful Access debate.  Sometimes known as warrantless wiretapping, the government has been pushing for such a law under the reasoning that it’s just too hard for police to apply for a warrant first.  So, in response to this overly burdensome paperwork, the government wants to just do away with this whole pesky due process thing and just allow RCMP get internet subscriber information directly, no questions asked.  The effort to bring back the debate was found in a government consultation on money laundering.

The controversial CRTC N-Word ruling made headlines this month.  The controversial decision to sanction the CBC came about as the result of the CRTC concluding that it is governed by the Broadcasting Act rather than the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The CBC objected to this ruling and appealed the decision.  This month, a judge has ruled that “The CRTC overstepped its jurisdiction” and overturned the decision.  Reports suggest that the CRTC is contemplating their next steps.

Back on the story of the Online Streaming Act, numerous smaller streamers are threatening to pull out of Canada.  This thanks to strict and overly burdensome Cancon requirements some fear they have no hope in complying with.  Among the services complaining about the Online Streaming Act are Crunchyroll, Roku, AMC, and PBS.

Later on, the fallout of the Online Streaming Act continued to get worse.  Disney+ has announced that it is halting commission work in Canada for the year.  Some suggest that this is likely due to the Online Streaming Act that makes it much more challenging to promote content in the first place.  The move suggests that investment money is already heading for the exits in this country.

Video Game Reviews

So, definitely a lot of drama happening this month.  Let’s tone things down by turning towards entertainment.

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

First up is the Steam game, Call of Duty: World at War.  You can check that video out on the site or on YouTube.

For this month’s Playstation 3 game, we played Battlefield 4.  You can check that out on the site or on YouTube.

This month’s XBox 360 game is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  You can check that out on the site or on YouTube.

Finally, this months Playstation 4 game is Just Cause 4.  That video can be seen on the site or 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, we reviewed Turok: Evolution for the Playstation 2.  Stripped out features, excessive difficulty, and clunky controls really made me fully dislike playing a Turok game.  Yeah, that one failed with a 46%.

Next, we played Dragon Warrior IV for the NES.  Numerous improvements over previous instalments, but menu systems being limited and clunky and bad graphics for the time held this one back.  This one only got a mediocre 64%.

After that, we played Burnout Dominator for the Playstation 2.  A number of features that made the previous games great return here.  However, this game represents a step back for the franchise with higher difficulty and luck dependent racing.  This one does still manage to get a solid 70%, though.

From there, we played Ratchet & Clank for the Playstation 2.  Rich in features, nicely done writing, and great graphics really made this one enjoyable.  This one gets a great 82%.

Finally, we played Medal of Honor – Vanguard for the Playstation 2.  A game that ends up morphing into a cheap Call of Duty knockoff game.  Short length and lack of innovation means this game only gets a barely passable 56%.

Music Reviews

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

Yellowcard – Breathing

POD – Youth of the Nation 

Our Lady Peace – One Man Army

Rise Against – Give It All

Sugarcult – Dead Living

Eiffel 65 – Move Your Body

Apollo 440 – Stop the Rock

… and finally Orion – See Me Here (Original Mix)

Man, that’s a heck of a strong showing in music this month!

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 for the Playstation 2.  Also, be sure to check out Yellowcard – Breathing.


If you’d like to get your hands on some behind the scenes stuff, exclusive content, and early access material, you can check out our Patreon page at  Through this, you can help make Freezenet just that much better all the while getting some pretty cool stuff in the process.  That’s!

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…and that’s this months episode for June, 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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