Freezenet Podcast: March 2023: Sanity Has Left the Building

In the 53rd episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “Sanity Has Left the Building”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in March 2023.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for March, 2023.  This month’s episode is entitled “Sanity Has Left the Building” because of the incredibly ridiculous developments in the Bill C-18 story.

This month also features stories such as the TikTok moral panic story, the Bill C-11 senate fix rejection story, and the massive story of Mastodon hitting 10 million users.

The podcast also covers 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 for this months podcast:


Ladies and gentlemen, Sanity Has Left the Building

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 53 of the Freezenet official podcast for March, 2023.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

The Bill C-18 debate intensifies as Facebook and Google move towards blocking news links as they have long warned

Canadian government pretends to care about privacy in their moves to ban TikTok, but continue to drag their feet on Bill C-27

… and Canadian government proves that regulation of user generated content was the entire point of Bill C-11.  This after rejecting the Senate’s critical fix.

Top Stories

Before I get into the details of the top three stories, I wanted to point out that I have finally published another vlog posting.  In it, I discussed the rejection of the Bill C-11 fix at the House of Commons.  If you want to check it out, you can view it on the website or on YouTube.

Now, to the top 3…

The Bill C-18 story intensified this month.  Kicking off our top story is a development that really is not a surprising one.  Google began testing a potential blocking action for their Google News service.  The test affected a mere 4% of Canadian users.  Those affected users only saw non-Canadian sources in their Google News search results.  The test only lasted 5 weeks and Google said that the move is not indicative of a final product decision.

The move wasn’t surprising given all the evidence leading up to the test.  After all, it is a bill that would saddle platforms like Google with unlimited liability, the fact that Google doesn’t make money on Google News at all, the decreasing revenue from advertising in the tech sector as a whole, and many other developments.  Any sane company in that position would want to be examining their options at this point.  The only real surprise is that Google didn’t say that they would follow this up with a warning that everyone will get these results if Bill C-18 is passed as-is.  You have to really be not paying attention to find any of this surprising.

Of course, when it comes to not paying attention to things like this, the media and the current Canadian government are absolute masters of that.

Up first is the reaction by big media.  As you know, Big Publishing has been, for months, pushing the big lie that platforms like Google and Facebook are “stealing” from news outlets.  They falsely claim that these platforms republish their whole articles, put advertising on their work, and take all the money for themselves.  The lie is, of course, wafer thin because if that were truly the case, then media companies could simply use the existing Copyright Act to claim damages for commercial copyright infringement.  They didn’t do this because they know they are lying.  As a result, such a case would never even remotely be successful.

Another sign that this was a massive lie?  The medias reaction to Google testing the possibility of removing news links from their services.  After the development of Google conducting this test, Big Publishing rolled out Big Lie 2.0.  That big lie is that Google is blocking access to news for Canadians and that Google is censoring news organizations.  Seriously, you can’t have it both ways.  Either you are happy or unhappy that Google is hosting your links.  Pick one and stick with it.

In the initial hit pieces pushed by Big Publishing, Big Publishing and their lobbyist friends accused Google of being “disrespectful” and said that Google is pursuing money at all costs.  This over a service that was provided for free and without direct financial benefits to Google itself.  This was quickly followed up by falsely stating that Google is blocking Canadians from accessing news.

It’s a false statement because Google doesn’t even have that power in the first place.  Users can still access the news websites in their browsers, mobile apps, and through other means.  Those affected by the test will simply not see links to Canadian news organizations specifically in Google News.  What’s more, Google isn’t, by any means, somehow legally obligated to allow news links on their website in the first place.  So, if Google decides that news links is no longer something they wish to provide, they are well within their right to not provide that service.  It’s their own private business decision on their own private property.

Subsequently, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, responded unprompted by any question to the development.  He said that he was surprised that Google would have the audacity of not paying journalists for their work.

(Trudeau Clip)

For one, it’s not a surprise as the Canadian government has been warned for months that this would be a potential outcome.  For another, paying journalists is the job of the journalism outlets, not Google.  The only surprise here is that people like us actually have to explain this in the first place.

Now, the link tax story has basically been pure stupidity all the way down.  I mean, it’s almost impossible to describe just how stupid it is to demand payments for a third party to give you free publicity.  That’s not even getting into the law and the really bad lies the large media outlets were pushing in the first place – not to mention all the absurdity that led to this moment.  So, if we have already reached this many levels of pure stupidity, well, why stop there?  Apparently, we are all on a quest to see just how far we can take this stupidity before someone gets slapped or something.

So, naturally, the next step this month was for the government to hold a hearing and demand that certain executives show up… even though that there were people better suited to send in the first place.  All of this over a test that wasn’t even a final decision that affected, uh, 4% of Canadians in the first place… temporarily.  Yeah, we have long left the realms of basic common sense and sanity at this point.

Well, when word got out that Google would be sending people who might actually have answers to any potential questions MPs might have, the large media outlets threw yet another temper tantrum.  They began making demands that we should arrest Google and jail its executives among other things.  I mean, supposedly, journalists writing these articles are supposed to be professional and report the facts, but that hasn’t happened in months in this debate already.  Again, sanity has long left the building in all of this.

At any rate, the large media outlets were largely trying to figure out who can make up the dumbest things about this whole debate.  The truth in the matter was that, yes, Google representatives are going to show up and the media ended up sitting there making idiots of themselves.

Of course, one of the biggest bad talking points about Bill C-18 is this idea that it’s modelled off of the Australian model.  As a result, if Canada just follows through and passes its own link tax law, journalism would be brought to the promised land.  As a result, according to the morons pushing this bill, hiring will be off the charts, journalism will be alive again, everyone will be eating from the horn of plenty, and Canada will be a mecca for journalism just like Australia.  Yeah, there was no hope I was going to get through all of that with a straight face.

Like pretty much every other talking point used to say Bill C-18 is this cure all solution, the comments that the Australian News Bargaining Code was a boon for journalism was also a complete fraud.

This month, we learned that News Corp Australia, the single biggest beneficiary of the News Bargaining Code, slashed 1,250 jobs.  According to reports, that amounts to about 1 in every 20 employees.

So, if Australia was supposed to be a financial haven for journalism, then you’d think that these massive cuts wouldn’t be happening.  Of course, the Australian Bargaining Code was intentionally poorly thought out and would mean that things like this would, you know, happen anyway.  But hey, more private islands for Rupert Murdoch, right?  I mean, it’s not like this whole thing was supposed to actually benefit journalists in the first place.  I mean, who could possibly be dumb enough to believe that?

Senator Paula Simons also made comments this month about Bill C-18.  Understandably, she was critical of the bill, questioning how much smaller outlets would actually benefit from the bill.  Spoiler alert, the ones that get next to nothing would be the lucky ones.

Perhaps one of the most eye-popping glimpses in all of this is the thinking, and I use the term “thinking” very liberally here, of the Canadian government in all of this.  Senator Simons apparently asked government staff what would happen if Google and Facebook were no longer profitable.  The Heritage Ministry staff apparently said that they “would turn to TikTok.”

I’ll quote Senator Simons for the rest of the exchange: “I said, ‘Wait a minute! TikTok doesn’t share news links,’” Simons recalled. “And staff said, ‘TikTok shares news stories in other ways. It talks about the news.’ I said, ‘Woah, wait a minute! That’s a fair-use argument.’…Then the official said to me, ‘Lots of Canadians get their news from TikTok.’”

Uh, A) Charge people for talking about the news?  Heck, even I would take my chewed up $5 bill and go straight to court to defend myself on that one.

B) Since when is TikTok the place everyone gets their news?

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, sanity has left the building.

Seriously, though, that exchange was… something.

So, naturally, this leads us to the hearing that occurred this month.  Now, amusingly, I wrote a comment on Twitter back on February 28th that had a prediction of how this hearing would turn out.  At the time, I wrote, and I quote, “I can only see the summons being little more than a publicity stunt for MPs to pretend that they are holding Google to account over a perfectly reasonable decision. The media will have their headlines, the MPs will have their temper tantrums, and nothing of value comes from this”.

The hearing occurred after I wrote those comments and everything I wrote in that tweet came true.  MPs did throw their needless temper tantrums.  The large media outlets pretended that this was some massive victory over Google – spoiler, it wasn’t, the whole hearing ended up being little more than a publicity stunt – and nothing of value came from it.

Hilariously, despite many assertions by supporters, it was actually the government that was unprepared for the hearing and technical difficulties delayed it by several days.  There were additional technical difficulties when the hearing actually took place on top of it all.

Of course, if that was the biggest embarrassment in the whole process, Canada would be comparatively in great shape.  Sadly, that is not the case.  Once again, the House of Commons committee in question is proving that it is a sorry joke of a process.

First of all, MPs decided to latch on to the false assumption that Google is blocking Canadians from viewing the news.  As we said, Google doesn’t even possess that power in the first place even if it wanted to.  Yet, that didn’t stop MPs from falsely saying that anyway.

(Accusation Clip 1)

While Google didn’t have the opportunity to respond to those wild claims, other MPs were all too happy to continue to push the talking point that Google is somehow censoring news.  Google, rightly responded that for everyone that was part of the test, they could still go to the websites or use apps to access the news.  Google is not somehow magically stopping people from reading the news outright.

(Accusation Clip 2)

Of course, obvious explanations to what is really going on didn’t seem to sink in with the thick-headed idiotic MPs.  They continued to insist that Google is somehow censoring the media.  So, Google did the only logical thing and repeatedly correct the MPs insistence.

(Accusation Clip 5)

I mean, this is really common knowledge that Google is merely linking to news sites.  This isn’t rocket science.  Yet, MPs just continued to insist that black is white, up is down, short is long, and Google is censoring the media.  So, once again, Google painstakingly explained, again, that they are not censoring the media.

(Accusation Clip 7)

Of course, explanations for how this basic concept works in the internet just refuses to sink in. MPs continued to falsely insist that Google is somehow censoring the media.

(Accusation Clip 8)

I know, this is just plain embarrassing on the part of MPs.  It is making it crystal clear that MPs don’t know what they are even talking about.  They are seemingly being fed lobbyist lies to push an agenda instead.

Of course, if we are obviously making stuff up about Google censoring the media, then why stop there?  In the world of making stuff up, the sky really is the limit.  One MP somehow managed to make the logical leap that Google is the source of all low quality journalism.

(Accusation Clip 3)

From there, it was a case of MPs trying to one up each other in the BS accusations.  One MP said that Google is responsible for Chinese interference.

(Accusation Clip 6)

Of course, it wasn’t enough to launch a series of false accusations against Google.  At one point, notorious Liberal MP, Chris Bittle, decided to continue with his MO of threatening and bullying anyone and everyone and, well, threaten Google.

(Threat Clip)

Naturally, in the barrage of baseless accusations, MPs decided that maybe we don’t need Google answering at all.  So, they decided to cut Google off and prevent Google from even answering questions.

(Interrupt Clip 1)

The likely strategy was to try and pretend that Google was being evasive in the questions, but the strategy, in reality, fell flat.  It was really obvious that Google was being blocked from answering questions.

(Interrupt Clip 2)

In fact, some MPs invoked the biased Chair when they refused to let Google answer the questions.

(Interrupt Clip 3)

So, were MPs refusing to hear Google’s answers?  Well, MPs were quite direct in saying that they didn’t want to hear Google’s answers to the applause of what had to have been lobbyists in the room.

(Not Listening Clip)

Yeah, this is a hearing.  Did you really expect a hearing in which MPs actually hear?  C’mon, that would imply that we are a sane country or something ridiculous like that!

Of course, one MP simply said that what Google is saying is just tech babble.  He even went so far as to put words in Canadian’s mouths by saying that Canadians view this as strong arm negotiation tactics.

(Accusation Clip 4)

As a Canadian, I can confirm that Canadian’s do not view this as some sort of strong arm negotiation tactic.  This is Google basically putting one foot out the door in response to a ridiculous bill that should never have been considered in the first place.  The only people who don’t see this that way are an increasingly diminished number of lobbyists and the government who has had their head in the sand this entire time.

Of course, that didn’t stop the MP from invoking the ignorant ‘perception is reality’ line.

(Accusation Clip 4)

Yeah, perception is reality.  You know what my perception is in all of this?  My perception is that MPs in that committee made an absolute mockery of Canadian’s intelligence.  The MPs in that committee has embarrassed Canada on the international stage with their ignorance, false accusations, and obviously lobbyist fuelled agendas.  Collectively, that committee owes Canadians an apology for that disgusting display and work on withdrawing Bill C-18.  That’s my perception and if that MP wants to talk about perception being reality, as far as I’m concerned, my perception of the situation is reality – and I think that Canadians are far more willing to believe me when I say these things rather than what that joke of an MP had to say.  Seriously, shame on those MPs.

Now, one thing about reality is that it always has a way of biting those that deny it.  Those MPs in that committee are definitely no exception to that.  Shortly after that joke of a committee wrapped up, Meta, parent company of Facebook, said that it has made a decision on Bill C-18.  They said that if Bill C-18 is not amended, then they would be blocking news links in Canada altogether.  Meta Spokesperson, Lisa Laventure, said, “If the Online News Act passes in its current form, we will end the availability of news content on Facebook and Instagram for people in Canada.”

The comments marked a major escalation.  We went from simply testing a service for the possibility of ending the carriage of news links to an outright announcement that news links will be dropped in Canada.  This if Bill C-18 is left unchanged.  The warnings were coming for months – warnings that the Canadian government chose to ignore – so this was not even remotely a surprise for anyone paying attention.  In fact, this was arguably expected.

In response, notorious Liberal MP, Chris Bittle, helped to push for a motion demanding an insane amount of information from Meta.  Observers note that this demand has little to do with seeking information and more about exacting political revenge for… making a sensible business decision.  The demands are so outrageous, that anything outside of directly quoting them would sound like I’m making stuff up.  So, here’s a quote from the demand:

“b. That Meta Platforms Inc., and its subsidiaries, be orderd to provide:

i. All internal and external commmunications (including but not limited to emails, texts or other forms of messages) related to actions it planned to take or options it considered or is considering in relation to all Canadian regulation since January 1, 2020, including that under Bill C-18, including but not limited to, restricting the sharing of news content on its platforms in Canada.

ii. Any internal documents, memos or internal communications relating to the impact of the company on the Canadian journalism sector since January 1, 2020.

iii. A list of all third parties that have received funding for the purposes of advocacy, engagement, awareness campaigns, and research with respect to regulation by Canada since January 1, 2020.

iv. Any internal and external documents, memos, presentations, communications with all third parties with respect to Canadian regulation since January 1, 2020.

That this be delivered to the committee no later than 5PM EST on March 31st, 2023.”

Everything about this is absolutely insane.  This especially in relation to ATIP requests that often takes years to fulfill and end up coming back redacted.  Yet, this government is demanding such documents within a month from a massive private company.  I mean, wow, just… wow.

In light of all of this, it appears that even the most hardcore Bill C-18 supporters are finally starting to admit that maybe the idea that platforms will stop offering news links wasn’t a bluff after all.  Duh!

Philip Crawley, publisher for the Globe and Mail, said that he supports the legislation, but admits that it might not be a bluff that Google and Facebook would drop news links.  Yeah, you kind of put yourself in that position on that one, dude.

The comments were paired with what was described as tech critic, Taylor Owen.  Owen says, “I think Facebook and Google determined that Canada is a tipping point that they don’t want to cross, and they’ve decided it’s worth risking a significant reputational hit by blocking news content here in order to show other countries they aren’t bluffing”

Heh, well, the only reputational hit that would take place is on the large media corporations part.  This for being stupid enough to shoot themselves in the foot in all of this, but hey, baby steps towards the real world is baby steps nevertheless.

Back to the demands, though, it seems that even members of the Canadian business community is having enough of the governments shenanigans.  The Canadian Chamber of Commerce published an open letter saying, in part:

“We have a number of serious concerns related to the substance and handling of the proposed motion:

(1) The motion specifically compels the disclosure of private communications and documents of third parties, without any requirement to inform them, let alone seek their consent. Such a measure contrasts starkly with the treatment of third-party information under Sections 20 and 36.3 of the Access to Information Act. Further, it goes against the principle established in Section 21 that protects the government from disclosure of “advice or recommendations by or for a government institution” or “an account of consultations or deliberations” in which its officials participated.

(2) The motion sets the stage for a major fishing operation that affects the rights, not only of the companies themselves, but of third parties as well. It requires the production of all internal and external communications (including but not limited to emails, texts or other forms of messages) in addition to any internal and external documents, memos and presentations related to actions the companies planned to take or options they considered or are considering in relation to all Canadian regulation since January 1, 2020, including Bill C-18. It also requires a list of all third parties that have received funding for the purposes of advocacy, engagement, awareness campaigns, and research with respect to regulation by Canada since January 1, 2020.

(3) The motion is directed only at the opponents of the bill, whom it accuses of “intimidation and subversion tactics.” Is the government prepared to apply the same disclosure standards to itself and to supporters of the bill, who have a direct and substantial interest in its passage? If it is not prepared to undertake the same disclosures related to its own actions, why will it not do so?

(4) The motion gives the companies only until “5:00 PM EST (sic) on March 31st, 2023” to produce this material. Is the government prepared to abide by similar standards for requests to it for information under the Access to Information Act?

(5) Canadians became aware of the intention to move such a motion only on Thursday. The vast majority of people and organisations whose democratic rights are at stake not only have not had a chance to be heard on its appropriateness but are completely unaware of the motion. Do committee members believe that this combination of stealth and haste on matters affecting privacy and basic freedoms sets an acceptable standard for a free and democratic society?”

Indeed, when I saw the motion, I was relieved I haven’t had any real communications with either Alphabet or Meta.  Otherwise, I’d be concerned that the government was going to start bullying and harassing me too.  This for blatantly obvious political reasons.  At any rate, welcome to the Bittle Inquisition.

The great TikTok moral panic and performative nonsense fever has hit Canada this month.  The story kicked off with an investigation from various privacy commissioners.  In a news release, the privacy commissioners said that they are investigating privacy practices of TikTok.  The commissioners include those on the federal level and the provincial levels like British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec.  The investigation was made especially in light of the fact that younger people tend to use the app.

Now, this might come as a surprise to those who have been following the news coverage, but I actually have no problem with the conducting of an investigation into TikTok.  By all means, audit away and actually get to the truth.  If you saw the report I published, however, you’ll note that I put the word “investigation” in quotes.  Why is that?

The simple reason is something I have been pointing out for years now: that Canada’s privacy regime is an absolute joke.  If any company is blatantly violating Canadian privacy law, you know what the consequences are?  A strongly worded letter and a message of “don’t do that again.”  This is because Canadians have been begging for real and reasonable privacy reform for the better part of 5 years now.  The government, however, has been reluctant to move forward with it because violating Canadian’s privacy is way too profitable.  So, as a result, we’ve been stuck in the stone ages of privacy law for a very long time.  Canadian privacy commissioners need the power to fine companies who violate Canadian privacy laws – plain and simple.  So, such investigations face a very uphill battle from the getgo regardless of the companies that are being “investigated”.

Where things absolutely flew off the rails is the large media companies and governments respective reactions.  In response to the launching of an investigation – not a conclusion, but a launching – the Canadian government announced that it would ban TikTok on government devices.  The problem here is that the reasons cited are pure security theatre.

If you are a government worker, you are fully aware that you aren’t installing jack on your government issued devices without the greenlight from your respective IT departments.  Spoiler alert: the answer is probably going to be “No”.  Bonus here is that I’ve heard stories where you can’t even change the system freaking clock without the greenlight from IT.  So, the chances of the TikTok app somehow being massively installed on everything in the government in the first place is probably on the same level of odds as a man walking on Mars next week.  It’s not happening.

In addition to that, the government could have cited a whole list of reasons why government devices can’t have TikTok installed on them.  Reasons like how that wouldn’t pertain to your work or accessing TikTok isn’t necessarily appropriate.  No, the government chose one of the worst possible reasons it could possibly think of: privacy and security concerns.  What are those concerns?  Screw you, the government isn’t saying.

The truth in the matter is that the Canadian government doesn’t care about the privacy and security of Canadians.  If it did, we wouldn’t be seeing Bill C-27, yet another privacy reform bill, being stalled on second reading… still.  This as the Canadian government cracks down on the internet with the comparatively fast moving Bill C-11 and Bill C-18.  With these reasons, it’s why it’s a safe conclusion to say that all of these moves by the government was total security theatre.

Shortly after the move, multiple provinces followed suit in this massive security theatre exercise and banned the app as well.  They all cited security and privacy concerns.  What are those concerns?  Apparently, that’s top secret – or more likely, they don’t have a freaking clue and they are just blindly doing what the federal government is doing.

For the government, it seems like the plan was to just say “privacy”, “security”, and “China” and the racists and the paranoid would just do the rest of the work for them.  Obviously, many in the privacy and security community are asking for more details – you know, because some of us would rather work with, you know, actual evidence.  Unfortunately, the Canadian government refuses to give it to them.  Unsurprisingly, this has led to some friction between the government and the security community.

The large media companies, however, have been also working hard to stir up hysteria in the Canadian population.  This by all but saying that everyone should uninstall TikTok and delete their channels because, otherwise, the Chinese are going to come in and invade your privacy and steal your first born.  In fact, the CBC published an article directed at kids trying to scare them out of using TikTok.  The effort, as it turned out, was a colossal fail.  This is because they included a poll asking readers if they intend on deleting their TikTok account.  When we published the article at the time, the results were that 72.73% said “No” while a mere 18.18% said “yes”.  That’s pretty definitive results that says that the scare tactics aren’t working.

Let’s face it, Canadians have been gradually conditioned to divulge every inch of their lives online for the last 20 years.  When you are a member of the younger generation, you likely had this your entire life and having whole lives online is simply normal at this point.  We’ve been told that it’s perfectly acceptable to let large companies like Facebook mine your data for profit.  What’s more, the foot dragging by the federal government suggests that nothing is going to change on this front any time soon.  Is it really a surprise that these same people won’t turn on a dime, freak out about their privacy, and believe that TikTok is this unique threat that must be excised from society?  No.  For most people, TikTok isn’t any different from Google, Facebook, or Instagram.  When the media or the government says “China”, they were always going to collectively shrug and say “so what?  It’s all the same to me.”

I’m sorry government, you made your bed and now you get to lie in it.  Either treat privacy and security of TikTok as seriously as the stories of Tim Hortons, Newfoundland, Desjardins and Home Depot, or just forget about it.  That is your choice.

Of course, Canadian citizens aren’t the only ones completely in the dark as to what the heck is going on here.  TikTok is equally in the dark and is asking if anyone would mind explaining to them what this is all about.  In an open letter, TikTok said, in part:

“Dear Minister Fortier,

I was disappointed to learn that the Government of Canada has decided to block access to TikTok on Government of Canada issued mobile devices. TikTok had not been made aware of your concerns prior to this action being taken, nor were we provided with an opportunity to respond to specific concerns.

In your statement, you wrote that “following a review of TikTok” the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Canada determined that TikTok “presents an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.” However, no specific risks were cited other than referencing “concerns about the legal regime that governs the information collected from mobile devices.” To be clear: TikTok’s collection of user information is governed by Canada’s legal regime – specifically, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

TikTok welcomes questions about how we protect the safety and privacy of Canadians, but these are questions that should be posed to all digital platforms.”

So, it is quite clear that pretty much everyone is in the dark about what the heck the Canadian government is even talking about.  We kind of need more than just “China ooga booga” to determine what is in our best interests here.

Of course, a major problem in the governments position is the fact that they have been slow walking privacy reform.  It’s a very significant political corner that the government painted themselves in.  On the one hand, the government says it cares about privacy with respect to TikTok, yet on the other hand, not care enough to move forward with across the board privacy reform.  So, with all but admitting that they were caught with their pants down on that one, the Canadian government said that it would move forward with Bill C-27.

I laugh, because, yeah, privacy reform was supposedly a bi-partisan top priority issue in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 with absolutely nothing to show for it.  In fact, Innovation Minister, François-Philippe Champagne was quoted in 2021 as saying that privacy reform was his “top priority”, yet he had almost nothing to show for it after.

So, understandably, I was skeptical that the government would do much more than just move this bill forward a few steps, then forget about this bill once the headlines die down.

Several days later, we actually checked the progress on Bill C-27 on the government website.  Guess what?  They moved the bill forward by a one whole debate.  Oooo!  A whole debate.  Yup, that’s real progress.  We’ve upgraded from a full blown stall in the bills progress to a snails pace.  Congrats on getting off your lazy butts and finally lifting a finger on this one.

It’s been a quiet month for the most part on the Bill C-11 file, but part way through the month, the Canadian government made a move that got this story roaring back into the top three headlines.

As you’ll recall, the Canadian senate voted for a compromise amendment.  The amendment would carry out exactly what the government asked to do while, at the same time, listened to creators by excluding user generated content from the bill – I know, first time creators were actually listened to in the whole process.

It put the government in the position of either accepting the amendment and finally putting some of the biggest concerns of the bill to rest or prove definitively, once and for all, that regulating user generated content was the whole point of Bill C-11.  The government responded by rejecting the amendment.  In a notice, the government “respectfully disagrees with amendment 3 because this would affect the Governor in Council’s ability to publicly consult on, and issue, a policy direction to the CRTC to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services with respect to their distribution of commercial programs, as well as prevent the broadcasting system from adapting to technological changes over time;”

So, a complete BS response that ultimately proved, once and for all, that the whole point of Bill C-11 is to regulate user generated content.  This by demoting speech the government doesn’t like while promoting speech that is explicitly sponsored by the Canadian government.  Creators responded to this development with outrage.

JJ McCullough said, “What a truly appalling spit in the face. The creator community of this country rose up in furious opposition to C-11 and the Senate responded with amendments that addressed many of our concerns. But the Liberal government doesn’t care. So maddening. All that activism for nothing.”

Gregor Reynolds said, “rejecting this amendment is another example of creator voices being wilfully ignored. Bill C-11 could impact how I make my money, and the democratization of digital entertainment as a whole.”

Morghan Fortier of Skyship Entertainment said, “it’s pretty evident that the people who drafted this bill did not understand how it could impact digital creators across the country.”

Oorbee Roy said, “the Bill as currently written, does not help digital creators. Rather, it hurts us, and it hurts all creators who aren’t the right fit or the right mould. If my video is suppressed because the CRTC decides that someone else’s content should be artificially pushed over mine, I lose my ability to get in front of my audience. That directly affects my bottom line.”

University Law Professor, Michael Geist, commented, “The rationale behind the rejection finally removes any pretense of the government’s true Bill C-11 intent. Rather than citing misleading lobbying claims opposed to the change, it calls it like it is: the government wants the power to direct the CRTC on user content today and the power to exert further regulation tomorrow.”

Scott Benzie, Director of Digital First Canada said, “It’s shocking that the Senate’s sober second thought was dismissed, and that the government continues to act as though digital creators are not legitimate artists and entrepreneurs. But the voices of creators and their communities will not be ignored. We aren’t going anywhere – and this government and legacy media are just going to have to get used to it.”

So, a massive firestorm in response to this development, but a hugely understandable one.

Shortly after the rejection, Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, accused online creators of being “loopholes“.  In a tweet, he stated, “As promised, we are accepting amendments that ensure tech giants pay their fair share toward our culture, and we are declining the amendments that create loopholes. That’s what Canadian artists and creators have asked us to do.”

The comments were widely condemned.  Michael Geist commented in the aftermath, “Canadian digital creators are not loopholes and characterizing efforts to address their concerns as such is a stain on the Heritage Minister. They may not belong to well established lobby groups, make political donations, or hold lavish conferences that provide politicians with big platforms, but their careers and livelihoods are not for this government or this minister to put at risk.”

In a follow-up, members of the music industry also reacted with disgust with all of this.  Will Page, formerly of PRS for Music, said, “What’s changed is the bill’s scope: a framework originally designed for linear broadcasters of domestic radio and television networks is now poised to cover new industries that were hardly conceivable when it was first written. Put another way, C-11 is a blunt instrument that threatens to derail the significant progress that technological innovation has brought to Canadian culture, including in my area of expertise – music streaming.”

Page adds, “Canada has admirably been a world leader in supporting its music economy, but replicating rather than reforming the framework in C-11, and applying it to borderless, on-demand streaming services, is like trying to fit a domestic square peg into an international round hole.”

So, it isn’t just video content creators that are badly hurt by the governments move.  It’s also the music industry as a whole.

All in all, this has been an incredibly infuriating month to say the least.

With that, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

Twitters poor performance has been a long running issue in the last few months.  In fact, massive outages have become a much more frequent occurrence.  This was compounded by yet another widespread outage on the platform.  Web tracking firm, NetBlocks, confirmed that in February alone, Twitter suffered from 4 massive outages.  This compared to 9 in the entire year of 2022.  Some note that with the mass firings, there is a lack of institutional knowledge to figure out what went wrong and fix it as well.  So, a number are concluding that Twitter has become an increasingly fragile platform struggling to stay online.

A new study confirmed, yet again, what Canadians already know: Canadians pay some of the highest cell phone and internet rates in the developed world.  A 2021 study by ReWheel confirmed this previously.  As a result, the study has been routinely cited in examining the state of cell phone and internet service.  It was also even more well cited during the controversial Rogers outage as the company tried to buy out one of the few remaining players in the industry, Shaw.

Industry apologists disagreed with the methodology and dismissed the study outright.  However, the Canadian government recently decided to conduct a study of their own.  In that study, the government itself re-confirmed that Canadians pay some of the highest internet and cell phone rates in the developed world.  The study compared Canada to 7 other comparable countries.  In some categories, Canada was only beaten out by countries like the US or Japan for the most expensive.  Other times, it was Australia that just edged out Canada.  In other cases though, Canada came out on top as the most expensive in the world.

So, if you wanted further evidence of Canada having expensive cell phone and internet bills, this study certainly provided it… not that Canadians really needed another reminder that they are being ripped off on this front.

With Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 nearing the end of their respective legislative processes, there are growing fears that the Canadian government will start moving ahead with it’s third bill, the online harms proposal.  The online harms proposal would effectively drop a digital nuclear bomb on the internet, destroying virtually any local website while blocking out everything else.  In short, it makes the previous two bills seem like small potatoes by comparison – if you can believe that.

With those growing fears, 13 civil rights organizations penned an open letter to the government, speaking about their red lines when it comes to this proposal.  In comments speaking about their red lines, Open Media says, “Key dangerous directions the letter warns the government against include:

– Proactively monitoring online content;

– Breaking private encrypted communication;

– Requiring mandatory takedown windows for most illegal content;

– Blocking websites without judicial review;

– Implementing new definitions of targeted harmful content, beyond those already defined by Canadian law.”

Obviously, the Canadian government has built a long history of ignoring sound logic and reason when it comes to its legislative efforts.  Still, you can’t blame them for trying.  This given the excessively high stakes in all of this.

If you can believe it, we did manage to scrounge up some good news this month.  Decentralized social media platform, Mastodon, has reportedly reached 10 million users.  The massive milestone was noted by data tracking account, MastodonUserCount.  The development showed that decentralized social media is, in fact, viable.  It also breathes life into the possibility that such platforms can be used as governments try to take more heavy handed approaches to regulating social media.

Video Game Reviews

One thing is for sure, this has been an absolutely challenging month.  Luckily, we did get our usual distractions in.  So, 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 played Torchlight.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

For this months Playstation 3 game, we played Battlefield: Bad Company.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

This month’s XBox 360 game is Forza Motorsport 3.  This rather popular video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

Finally, for this month’s Playstation 4 game, we played Call of Duty: Black Ops III.  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 Sly 2: Band of Thieves for the Playstation 2.  Some minor flaws with the odd difficulty spike here and there, but a nice open layout level system.  The use of all three characters works quite well too.  So, a game that gets a great 82%.

Next up is Red Faction II for the Playstation 2.  Sporadic and unpredictable difficulty with very hit and miss levels.  So, a game that gets a very average 64%.

After that, we played Superman for the Nintendo 64.  While not the worst game I have ever played, a lot of the flack this game got is well deserved.  Bad controls, poor gameplay, bad learning curves, repetitive soundtrack, and terrible graphics.  So, a game that gets an abysmal 28%.

This was followed up by Need for Speed: Prostreet for the Playstation 2.  A game that was way too easy. A slightly confusing progression tree did this game no favours.  Still, the soundtrack had some highlights and a reasonable learning curve for races did save the day.  So, a game that gets a decent 70%.

Finally, we played Dragon Warrior III for the NES.  Excessive grinding and vague clues hurt this game.  Additionally, the archaic menu system didn’t help matters.  A class system that is improved, but not really enough to save the game.  So, a game that gets a barely passable 52%.

Music Reviews

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

Limp Bizkit – Counterfeit

Super Furry Animals – Demons

Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreets Back)

Hole – Retard Girl

Prozzak – Strange Disease

J.D.S. – Nine Ways (Original Mix)

Staxx – Joy (Mondo’s Pussycat Vocal 12″)

Slacker – Your Face (In the Mirror)

… and finally, Olive – You’re Not Alone (Matthew Roberts’ Cloud 10 Mix)

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month.  This month, our pick of the month belongs to Sly 2: Band of Thieves for the Playstation 2.  Also, be sure to check out Prozzak – Strange Disease.


Before we close out this months episode, I just wanted to give a shout out to the people who have subscribed to the YouTube channel.  This month, we went over 25 subscribers.  So, thank you so much for getting the channel up to this point.

On a related note, this month, with that last first impression video, we cleared 100 videos in our first impression video series.  I am so thrilled to have made it to this milestone.  Here’s to the next 100 video’s in the series!

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!

Alternatively, you can simply buy us a coffee via!

…and that’s this months episode for March, 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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