Freezenet Podcast: May 2023: The Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special

In the 55th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “The Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in May 2023.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for May, 2023. This month’s episode is entitled “The Bill C-18 Senate Hearing Special” because we take you inside the senate hearings on Canada’s link tax legislation.

Also this month, we cover the terrible passage of Bill C-11, the possibility that Wikipedia could be blocked in the UK, and PornHub blocking Utah IP addresses.

This along with all the usual music and video game reviews and video uploads. 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

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 55 of the Freezenet official podcast for May, 2023.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

We take you inside the Bill C-18 senate hearings and hear what people have to say about Canada’s link tax legislation

Canadian creators in mourning as Bill C-11 becomes law.  This as the CRTC unveils it’s schedule for so-called “consultations”

… and Wikipedia could be blocked in the UK as the country pushes controversial age verification laws

Top Stories

Before I get into the top stories, I wanted to point out that I have released not one, but two vlog postings this month.  In the first vlog, I talk about the passage of Bill C-11.  What I also talk about is the next steps for the now-called Online Streaming Act.  It showcases why the internet isn’t exactly going to change overnight because of the passage of the legislation, but we are heading down a very dark path.  You can check out that video directly on the site or on YouTube.

In the second vlog posting, I tackle one of the biggest misconceptions of the Online Streaming Act.  The perception by some is that if you are Canadian, then your content automatically qualifies as Canadian content or “Cancon”.  In that video, I completely debunk that notion.  I explain not only the CRTC points system that you have to get through to qualify, but also show one of the massive forms you could be forced to fill out for every single video you upload just to try to qualify as being “Cancon”.  As an added bonus, I even went over why it might actually be in your best interest to not be qualified in the first place.  You can check out that video on the site or on YouTube.

Now, to our top stories.

Digital rights is in a terrible position in Canada.  With Bill C-11 already law, Bill C-18 is threatening to do to online journalists what Bill C-11 is going to do to digital content creators.  Just in a different way.  With Bill C-18, the platforms may be forced to drop the sharing of news links altogether.  In fact, all signs point to this being a likely outcome.  As a result, people like us could soon be completely choked off from our audiences on those platforms.  Online creators were on the brink of seeing their careers ruined by the government thanks to Bill C-11.  Now, people like me are seeing their careers potentially sharing the same fate with Bill C-18.  So, it’s probably not that surprising that we are giving these hearings the same treatment as the Bill C-11 hearings months ago.

As the title of this podcast suggests, we are going to be taking you inside the Bill C-18 Senate hearings.  We touched a little bit on this in last month’s podcast by talking about the schedule of the first half of week one.  This podcast kicks off with the other half of the first weeks senate schedule.  It was oddly delayed, but it finally published.  It was set to feature lobbyists and digital rights organizations.

With that, we then went into the first segment of hearing 1.  In that hearing, we heard from Heritage officials – mostly Thomas Owen Ripley.  So, we’re getting off to a pretty big start with these hearings.  In that hearing, Ripley importantly noted that if platforms drop the hosting of news links, then they would no longer need to negotiate or enter into agreements with publishers.  This is because the exchange of value that this bill is based on would no longer apply.  This was part of a key moment with Senator Leo Housakos asking a question.

(Ripley Clip)

This is a hugely important aspect of the bill that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.  Some people out there legitimately believe that Facebook and Google can’t legally drop news links altogether in response to this bill.  This is a major Heritage official flat out admitting that if news links are dropped from these platforms, then platforms would no longer be obligated to pay news organizations as per the provisions of this bill.  This is because, from the governments perspective, the basis of this bill is supposed to be about an exchange of value.  If there are no news links, then there is no value that can be demanded from big publishing.  This isn’t me just saying stuff.  This is the governments position and you heard it straight from the horses mouth just now.  No news links, no news media ransom payments.

We then moved on to the second segment of hearing 1.  This one features a number of experts as well as a lobbyist.  A major highlight, of course, is Konrad von Finckenstein who is a well known figure in the telecom sector.  This is because he was actually the chair of the CRTC for some time.  So, it wasn’t a surprise that a major highlight involved him talking about the bill.  In short, the bill needs a lot of work to be more clear.  Failure to clarify the bill will mean that the bill will get delayed.  Here’s his opening statement.

(Finckenstein Clip)

In general, the legislation is vague and will cause problems that the CRTC wouldn’t have a hope in managing.  It’s not hard to think that this is an ominous warning sign of things to come for this legislation in it’s own way.  Either way, though, I thought that was excellent and definitely worth highlighting.

So, with that, we found ourselves gearing up for the second hearing.  This is where the hearings got rather weird.  The hearing was supposed to have members of the Internet Society, Canada Chapter, OpenMedia and several others.  I actually posted the whole list of witnesses that were due to be at this hearing.  The thing is, it appears that the hearing never even took place.  What happened?  I really don’t know.  Either way, there was no space for where the video should have been and the schedule had the entry removed completely.  So, we only had one two hour hearing in the first week as a result.

From there, we moved on to week two of the hearings.

First, we got into the first segment of hearing 3.  If you are looking for the one that famed expert, Michael Geist, was in, this was that hearing.  Another expert joined in and that was Peter Menzies who spent part of his time working at the CRTC.  Marla Boltman of FRIENDS also happened to be there.  Her problem is being in the same room with two heavyweights like Geist and Menzies.  Probably the only point that was of interest from her was the call for greater transparency for news organizations.  That was about it, though.

Geist was asked a series of questions by Senator Paula Simons.  All three questions hit on different important themes.  First, why Bill C-18 violates the Berne Convention – which is, of course, one of Canada’s international trade obligations.  The second is the question about whether or not the CBC should be included for eligibility in this bill.  Finally, the third question put the spotlight on the elephant in the room.  That was the prospect of Google and Facebook dropping news links from their services in Canada.  Indeed, my money is on that outcome.  Should that happen, that would pretty much render the rest of the debate moot.  So, the next logical question is, of course, whether or not Canada has options should the platforms go this rout.  My kneejerk reaction to that question is that Canada doesn’t really have any options, but I wasn’t in the room.  So, here’s Geist answering Senator Simons questions.

(Geist Clip)

Yeah, I’m not really surprised.  I mean, I suppose the only other option at that point is to amend the bill to say that carriage of news links is mandatory.  The problem is that this goes straight into the territory of compelled speech.  This opens up some pretty big questions in the Canadian constitution – namely whether or not compelled speech violates freedom of expression or not.  My understanding is that caselaw isn’t that clear on this.  If the bill is amended to include such a provision, then we might very easily get a whole lot of clarity afterwards.  This is because a lawsuit is pretty much the only logical conclusion to such a move on the part of the platforms.  Beyond that, though, yeah, Canada would be very much out of luck in that scenario as far as I’m concerned.

As for Menzies, he made a very interesting point about the financials behind this.  In short, the dollar figures projected by this bill are actually quite low.  For Post Media, an executive said that he would need an additional $500 million to survive.  The most optimistic numbers for every news outlet out there for Bill C-18 is $320 million.  Far short of the requested financial aid for one organization.   Forget the whole sector, this isn’t even enough for one major news organization.  What’s more, a number of journalism funding programs are expected to end soon.  The total value actually exceeds the Bill C-18 projections.  So, even if the media got everything they were demanding, they would still be money behind after those programs end.  So, like I suggested in previous podcasts, the numbers that were fluffed up to be the thing that saves journalism isn’t even close to being big enough in the first place.

With that, we continued on with the second segment of hearing 3.  With this hearing, it is very clear that these hearings are really pushing the pedal to the floor with these heavy hitting witnesses.  We’ve already had a number of blockbuster witnesses.  This along with government officials.  To my surprise, things didn’t slow down at all.  Right after, they brought in non other than the CRTC to testify on top of it all.  The CRTC is, of course, the governmental organization expected to administer this bill.

One of the notable moments was that some senators were annoyed that the chair decided to not bother showing up for the hearing.  Senator Leo Housakos asked that the representatives deliver a message to her, telling her to show a little more respect next time.

Another moment sparked a rather fun little adventure for me personally.  This was mixed in with a rather interesting factoid about how the bill lacks the step of a policy direction from government.  This is unlike what we are seeing with the Online Streaming Act.  Here’s Senator Pamella Wallin asking questions with Scott Shortliffe answering:

(Shortliffe Clip)

A lot of interesting stuff happening here.  In addition to the lack of a policy direction in the bill, Shortliffe said that they have an open door policy when it comes to anyone who has views on the bill.  For those of you who are having flashbacks to what happened with the Canada Media Fund, oh yeah, you knew I had to put that to the test.  This especially with how they were saying that they have absolutely no staffing issues with this whole concept of regulating the internet.  No problem!  The mattress is on the roof of the car and when that regulator hits highway speed, all they need is a hand on that mattress.  They got it, they got it.

So, I was all too happy to send the CRTC an e-mail.  Obviously, I was respectful, asked questions, and offered suggestions in good faith.  I ticked the box requesting a followup and sent it on its way.  I then was greeted by a message that said the following:

“Thank you for contacting the CRTC. Your request has been received. If you have asked to be contacted for follow-up, we will respond to you as soon as possible. We apologize in advance for any delay that may be caused by the high volume of correspondence received in the Commission.”

What?  I thought the CRTC just got through explaining to the senators how nicely staffed they were.  They can handle everything that comes their way with regard to Bill C-11 and Bill C-18.  Oh well, I’m sure that’s totally not a really bad sign at all.  No siree!

Well, after waiting nearly a week and a half, I ended up not getting a response. Checked the e-mail and checked the spam basket.  Yup, nothing received whatsoever.

Of course, in response, I pointed out that this raises a number of questions.  If the CRTC is supposed to be adequately staffed to handle both Bill C-11 and Bill C-18, why is it that they couldn’t even handle a simple e-mail from a small news website?  After all, as things continue to ramp up, I would be far from the only one asking questions about the legislation in the first place.  It’s worth pointing out that if they didn’t have answers to some of these questions, they could’ve responded by saying something along the lines of how the bill is in development and they couldn’t, for instance, tell me at this time if my news website would qualify under the provision of not being focused on a particular topic or not.  It might not have been the greatest look, but it certainly would have been better than not getting a response at all.

It’s also worth pointing out that, as of the writing of this script, I still haven’t received a response.  That’s more than two and a half weeks later.  If a larger news organization has a critical question about the legislation, does this sound like a reasonable wait time for a response?  Probably not.  Either way, I’m two for two in debunking such claims from governmental organizations.  Was it ever going to go down any other way?  Probably not, but it sure was fun doing that.

We then moved on to the 4th hearing.  This was probably the hearing a lot of people were looking forward to.  In the first segment, we heard from Alphabet, parent company of Google.  Not surprisingly, the representatives said that they haven’t made a final decision on whether they were going to block Canadian news links or not.  They did conduct some testing on what it would be like to just block Canadian news links in Canada, though.

Now, what I found interesting is what the representatives had to say about how many users actually use their services to find news.  I knew that the number was quite low on Facebook, but Google was a bit more of a mystery to me up to that point.  In this hearing, well, we actually got an answer.  Here’s Senator Julie Miville-Dechene asking questions and Richard Gingras answering.

(Gingras Clip)

So, definitely interesting to have an actual figure to queries in Google for news.  Not only is it a mere 2% of search queries looking for news, but the fact that the actual revenue is even less.  The fact that there is even less in revenue is not as surprising, though.  This is because it’s widely known that there are no ads on Google News.  Still, it adds context to the overall business picture of hosting news links – and that picture is pretty dismal.  It suggests that 98% of queries aren’t even related to news.  It may be difficult for some hardcore news enthusiasts to wrap their heads around that, but the major problem with the news business is getting people interested in the news.

This reality is the polar opposite to what the bills supporters would have you believe – that news is the jewel in crown content that everyone is interested in.  With that false assumption, the bills supporters feel that platforms just have no choice but to concede to their demands.  This is because they would practically lose all of their business if they blocked news links.  Ultimately, you couldn’t get much further from the truth then that.

The simple truth is that very few people are all that interested in news and if Google dropped news links altogether, the damage that would cause to their business would be minimal to non-existent.  Their tests indicated as such and Google said it themselves that those results are not that surprising.  There are definitely people out there who don’t like Google, but in this case, all the evidence points to the fact that Google is being straight and honest here.  This when they say that news content matters little to their business model.

In a followup to that interesting hearing, the second segment of hearing 4 featured none other than representatives from Meta – parent company of Facebook.  While Alphabet representatives have been saying all along that all options are on the table and a decision has yet to be reached for them, Meta, on the other hand, was much more straight forward. If the bill passes as-is, then Meta will end support for Canadian news links on their platforms.

Things did get interesting part way through the hearing when there was discussion about what Meta’s issues are with the bill.  Representatives recommended removing audiovisual content from the bill.  I admit that I never caught the fact that the bill also captures audiovisual content over top of news links, but that was certainly a concern for them.  Towards the end, though, Meta said that if audiovisual content is part of the bill, they would drop audiovisual content as well from their platforms.  Here’s Senators Rene Cormier, Paula Simons, and Julie Miville-Dechene asking the questions and Rachel Curran and Marc Dinsdale answering.

(Curran Clip)

So, uh, whoa!  That was a bombshell towards the end of that hearing.  Basically, the content captured by the bill would act as a shopping list for Meta to drop support.  If it’s news in text format, a news link, or any kind of multi-media, well, if it’s captured in the bill, it gets dropped from their platforms.  Definitely an eyebrow raising revelation to say the least.

So, with that, we then entered into week 3 of these hearings.

With so many big names already appearing, it’s hard to really see that continuing for much longer.  With the first segment of hearing 5, it’s probably not a surprise that we got a panel of lobbyists pushing for the bill.  There was the call to shoehorn online harms into the bill, but the arguments went around and around in circles.  At one point, there was the demand that the CRTC head up enforcing that aspect, then the witnesses suggested that they don’t want the CRTC enforcing it, then it was about enforcing standards and practices, then it was just about two private parties getting together to talk it out to- yeah, it was a mess of arguments trying to find something that stuck.  Another witness ended up partly bailing them out by suggesting the use of contract law, but the ideas never really developed from there.

Another witness, rightfully, worried that smaller publishers would get left with crumbs when all is said and done.  Although members would qualify, what they would get in terms of payouts would be minimal.  Obviously, this all hinges on the platforms going along with this at all which, at this point, is looking quite doubtful.  Still, in the event that the miracle development happens and platforms go along with it, then smaller players would end up getting ripped off anyway.

Towards the end of the hearing, there was a moment where one of the witnesses was hilariously saying that, well, someone has to pay for all the printing of their newspapers.  Here’s Senator Peter Harder asking the questions and Thomas S. Saras answering.

(Saras Clip)

For context, Senator Harder is a major sponsor of the bill.  In that exchange, you could almost hear the senator internally screaming, “Give me something to work with!  What are you doing?  You’re supposed to sit there and agree with me!”  Yeah, that attempt to sell the legislation went down in flames.

The second segment of hearing 5 didn’t go that much better for supporters of the bill.  It probably explains why the large media outlets went silent on these hearings.  This hearing, however, also happened to feature Derek Fildebrandt who is very much opposed to this bill.  Indeed, one of the worries is that those who actually know how the internet works runs the risk of seeing their entire business model get wiped out overnight because of the shutdown in the carriage of news links on platforms.

Indeed, a lot of online publications got big thanks in large part to the reliance on platforms like Facebook and Google News.  There is nothing wrong with such an approach as that is sometimes the fastest way of growing your business.  The problem is also that if something were to happen on those platforms where carriage of your news is no longer going to happen, you basically have to start over from scratch and get very creative with how to operate your business.  It almost sounds like that is the position Fildebrandt finds himself in.  Here’s his opening remarks.

(Fildebrandt Clip)

I am absolutely on board with the idea of having this bill opt in.  It’s ridiculous that everyone is forced into the same position in the first place.  If there was a way to simply side-step this bill entirely and continue on with business as usual for my website, I would happily take it.  It shouldn’t be an unreasonable ask to allow smaller news sites like ours to just tell platforms that our news links are free.  Additionally, we don’t want to partake in the charging for carrying our news links.  Hopefully, we can get that.

Now, before I move on, there was something of a minor viral moment thanks to Evan Jamison, one of the lobbyists in the panel.  For some, the idea of platforms being charged for links might be a difficult concept to understand.  If everyone got it, then most people would call this out as the ridiculous plan that it is.  So, thanks to Jamison, we were inadvertently gifted with a good analogue comparison to match the ridiculousness of the concept of link taxes.  In Jamisons statement, there was an acknowledgement that Canada Post has taken on the business of distributing flyers.  Newspapers used to, indeed, carry many of those flyers, but Canada Post has generally taken over that role.  This decreased the newspapers revenues as a result.  So, here’s Jamison showcasing just how entitled to money some of these newspaper organizations are:

(Jamison Clip)

Yeah, that is definitely a clip that has to be heard to be believed.  It’s truly a stunning level of entitlement.  At that point, in their world, anyone making money should be forced to pay news publishers.  You might as well argue that if you sell grilled cheese sandwiches, that could be thought of as time taken away from newspaper reading, so therefore, people who sell grilled cheese sandwiches needs to pay into a grilled cheese sandwich refund program to newspapers.  This is because everyone should devote their entire lives to reading newspapers.  Seriously, though, you can’t make this stuff up.

The panel also heard from magazine lobbyists who felt that as many of their members as possible should be qualified as eligible news organizations as well.  Yeah, those trashy magazines you see on the stand at the grocery store that you put effort into ignoring?  They feel they are huge contributors to the world of journalism.  They further argued that they represent high quality journalism as well.  So, they felt they should be receiving funds from the link tax to support their publications.  Eyeroll indeed.

As a result, lobbyists pushing this bill have failed pretty spectacularly twice in a row.  So, moving on to the first segment of hearing 6, lobbyists were permitted to get a third kick at this can to make the case that Bill C-18 is the right policy direction to take.  Well, let’s just say that in the span of about 3 and a half minutes, three lobbyists found themselves pretty much self-destructing.  Heres Kevin Desjardins, Catherine Edwards, and Amélie Hinse failing hard at answering what was a pretty straightforward question from Senator Paula Simons.

(Desjardins Clip)

Yeah, nothing helps your credibility on a subject quite like turning the hearing into a ‘let’s all make idiots of ourselves hour’.  It’s one thing to say that they can’t comment on that area as they don’t really have an opinion on that – which would have been fine – but to sit there, and just throw out random talking points that have no relevance to the question, yeah, that was embarrassing.  You could really hear Desjardins mentally thumbing through all of his talking points, unable to find any that was relevant to the question, and just blue screen on the spot.

Student newspaper union, CUP, was also present.  Unfortunately, they didn’t really add much to the debate.  It was actually Senator Simons that made their presence worthwhile when she pointed out that student newspapers aren’t eligible, yet campus radio stations are.  The representatives said that they have no idea why that is the case.  An understandable reaction to say the least. I personally had hopes that the organization would’ve had a basic understanding about how the internet works, but I was left disappointed as they were seemingly there for a fast cash grab as well.

One thing is for sure, I can see why the major news organizations didn’t want to cover the hearings after the appearances of the platforms.  When its your side having faceplant after faceplant after faceplant, yeah, I would try and excise that from everyone’s collective memories too.  The bills opponents have really been acing their appearances, however few opportunities they have had.  Meanwhile, the bills supporters just keep striking out here.

The hearings also appear to be destined to continue, so there’ll be more coverage in next month’s podcast as well.

We pick up where we left off from last month’s podcast to bring you the latest updates in the ongoing Bill C-11 debates.  Things were looking very grim for creators as it seemed like nothing was going to put a stop to this bill at this point.  It was widely expected that the bill would become law part way through last month with the senate waving the white flag, shrugging their shoulders, saying, ‘oh well, we tried’, and surrendering the right to freedom of expression.  Things slowed down at the last second as some senators appeared to not be giving up the fight so easily.  Even going into this month, it appeared that the bill was mercifully stalled.

Unfortunately, that last bit of resistance found in the senate finally gave way.  Senators voted to pass the bill, giving the green light for the government to abolish freedom of expression.  Within hours of the bills passage, the legislation received royal assent.  With that, on April 27th, 2023, freedom of expression officially died in Canada.  Now, legally speaking, it has been relegated to a mere privilege where creators must beg for the governments permission before they are permitted to experience the full range of benefits afforded to the right to freedom of expression.  Otherwise, the government has the power to ensure that your voice never reaches your audiences online.

Within hours of freedom of expression being abolished, Canadian corporate lobbyists and the cultural elite just couldn’t help themselves.  Cultural elite organization, the CDCE, immediately began demanding even more even before the ink spelling out the law dried.  The organization wrote, “In the coming months, the government will issue a policy direction to the CRTC, which will then have the important responsibility of developing the rules that will apply to each of the new services that are now clearly under its jurisdiction, i.e. audiovisual and audio streaming services and social media.”

The comments made it abundantly clear that lobbying organizations want it all.  Whether it is through platforms like Netflix or YouTube, they want all platforms to bend to their every whim and have all audiences redirected and funnelled to their own content.  What’s more, they are basically admitting that, yes, the regulation of user generated content is, indeed, the whole point of the bill.  As a result, for organizations like them, the right to freedom of expression should only apply to them and no one else.

Of course, while the changes to the internet in Canada are seemingly a sure thing at this point, such changes won’t happen overnight.  In fact, things will likely continue as per normal for months, if not years.  This is a point we have been repeating for months now.  So, we are now looking at the next steps to see what the effort to regulate the internet in Canada will look like.

Shortly after, it appears that Canadian regulator, the CRTC, made the next move.  Getting out ahead of the government issued policy direction – a move that has raised a number of eyebrows among experts – the regulator announced that public consultations will be moving ahead.

While details were initially sparse, later on this month, the CRTC released a general schedule for how their consultations will look.  In all, there will be 9 consultations with the first 3 set to begin in the Spring of 2023.  In the Fall, another consultation will take place.  After that, the remaining 5 consultations are set to take place in the Winter of 2023-2024.  The expected launch of their efforts to begin regulating almost the entire internet is then set to take place in late 2024.

The consultations themselves are set to cover a variety of topics including how contributions to the traditional media funding system will look, the registration of online streaming services so Canadian corporations can swing by and take their money, and, of course, the afterthought of possibly talking about whether or not the archaic rules of what is actually considered “Canadian content” or not should be changed.

All of this, of course, assumes that things are going to go incredibly smoothly with absolutely no bumps in the road.  Of course, it’s easy to expect that things could easily get delayed.  What’s more, this doesn’t even take into consideration the obvious legal challenges, the trade retaliation from the US, and, of course, the constitutional challenges that would ensue.  That is invariably going to delay things even further.  Saying that things will start to take shape in 2025 is being incredibly optimistic.  Yeah, we are years away on this.

Paired with the schedule was a so-called fact sheet.  The CRTC caught controversy with that fact-sheet as it was filled with double speak.  One example is as follows:

“Myth: The CRTC will regulate social media users and user content”

“Fact: We will only regulate broadcasters, broadcasting services and online streaming services that make programming available to the public.


The goal of the modernized Broadcasting Act is to ensure that content made by Canadians and Indigenous creators is supported and promoted on traditional broadcasting services and online streaming services.”

To put it another way, the CRTC is basically saying that they are totally not regulating user generated content.  Instead, they are regulating user generated content.  Don’t worry, it’s the good kind of content that will take the place of user generated content, so please stop asking questions.

Another example is this:

“Myth: The CRTC will regulate the algorithms of online streaming services

Fact: We will not regulate algorithms. We want to encourage innovation to make Canadian and Indigenous content easier to find.”

Put it another way, the CRTC is basically saying that they are not regulating algorithms, just regulating algorithms.  So, it’s no big deal!  There, that makes it all better!

Not surprisingly, there was massive backlash against the CRTC on social media in response to this ridiculousness.

Of course, if you thought that was bad, additional documents released by the CRTC made the situation worse.  According to one document, the CRTC is asking the public the following: “Q36. How can the Commission ensure that online undertakings make Canadian and Indigenous audio and video programming available in Canada and abroad? What types of requirements or incentives would best optimize the distribution of Canadian and Indigenous content, both internationally and domestically?”

Now, if you are like me, you’ll hear that question and go, ‘wait wait wait wait, back it up, “internationally”?’  If that was your reaction, well, that was mine as well.

All this time, many creators, including myself, had the image of the CRTC demanding a Canadian version of, say, Youtube, to promote content with their 30% quota’s of Canadian content.  This with the rest of the world accessing the regular, uncensored version of YouTube.  This document, however, suggests otherwise.  It appears that the expectation is that the Cancon quota is expected to be promoted on the global version of their platform.  So, if you live in the US, the UK, Australia, or anywhere else, you get that Cancon quota as well.  Almost no one had this in mind up until now.

If that is well and truly the aim in all of this, expect the platforms to leave Canada completely.  They are not going to mess with their algorithms on their global audience just to appease such a tiny country like Canada.  In that scenario, either the law gets smacked down or say goodbye to platforms like YouTube.

Shortly after that awful revelation, it seems as though calls have already started to surface from the US to intervene and challenge what is now called the Online Streaming Act.  Comments from The Hill offered up the following among other things:

“There’s only one thing that both sides agree on: Namely, that the Biden administration may challenge Bill C-11 at the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). That’s what should happen. A case would rein in abuses of Bill C-11, and deter other countries from getting carried away with their own cultural protectionism.”

“Canada can use the cultural industries exception, but doing so would entitle the U.S. to “take measures of equivalent commercial effect in response,” which means it could exact compensation for Canada’s wrongdoings.

This will be embarrassing for Canada. The cultural industries exception will be seen as not worth the paper it’s written on. This will cost Prime Minister Justin Trudeau politically, as he put a lot of emphasis on getting the exception copied into the USMCA, over the opposition of President Donald Trump. The only way Trudeau can get a reward from this “win” is to never use the exception.”

So, it sounds like the developments haven’t gone unnoticed in the US.  It’s unlikely trade retaliation will happen immediately – this given that the CRTC is only just getting to the process of hammering out the details of how it intends to regulate the internet.  However, as things get closer to being final, trade retaliation seems more likely to follow.

Now, when I talked about the CRTC consultation schedule, did you notice I said Spring of 2023?  You might have thought, ‘that’s, like, now, isn’t it?’  Well, you would be correct!  In response to this insane scheduling that the CRTC conjured up, it seems that others are a little less than enthused about the situation.

In response, various organizations from both sides of the debate have asked for an extension to the first set of consultations.  People who signed onto this include Digital First Canada, FRIENDS, OpenMedia, the NCRA, CIPPIC, and several others.  It was quite the broad base of organizations that have called for this.  Part of their submission, which takes issue to the fast timeline that starts on June 12, reads as follows:

“The applicants provide the following grounds for their procedural request:

a. The interconnectedness of the 2023-138, -139 and -140 proceedings requires parties to develop a coherent framework for all three proceedings,

b. The current deadlines provide inadequate time for parties to consult and to undertake necessary research, thereby weakening the record of these proceedings, and

c. The absence of the policy direction from Cabinet creates uncertainty as to the recommendations that parties may reasonably make.”

We’ll see if the CRTC agrees to the deadlines being extended.

The ugly age verification debate has made an appearance in two different countries this month.  On a smaller scale, Utah, in the United States, passed what is known as SB 287.  It’s a bill demanding that people verify their ages before accessing adult content on the internet.  In response, PornHub blocked all IP addresses coming out of Utah.  No doubt, there is now a surge in interest for VPN services before the bill takes effect.

On a larger scale, though, the UK is pushing for it’s own age verification laws.  Like so many other iterations, websites would be required to collect and store huge swaths of personal information to stay in compliance with the law.  In response, Wikimedia responded by saying that they will refuse to comply with the law, saying that it would break their commitments to keep minimal amounts of information about their users.  As a result, it is feared that Wikipedia will eventually be blocked in the country altogether.

It was difficult to really focus on anything else, but we did manage to cover some other things that are happening.  So, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

After over half a decade of delay, the Canadian government is now finally getting serious about privacy reform.  As a result, they have tabled a bill that is on the fast track to final passage.  There’s just one catch to this.  The privacy reforms only benefit political parties and politicians.  In the latest slap in the face to Canadians, the reform was buried in the recent budget bill.  The reforms pave the way for political parties to use and collect personal information to their respective political advantages.  Yeah, nice to know that politician’s look out for the people that really matter to them… themselves.

This month, political observers know that the Liberal Party Convention was taking place.  Shockingly, a development occurred that made the party look even worse to online innovation and creativity.  A resolution was passed by the party that urges the government to crack down on journalism.  The resolution in question states:

”    BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Liberal Party of Canada:

– Request the Government provide additional public funds to support advertisement-free news and information reporting by Canadian media through an arm’s-length non-partisan mechanism.

– Request the Government explore options to hold on-line information services accountable for the veracity of material published on their platforms and to limit publication only to material whose sources can be traced.”

The move stunned observers and marked a new low for the political party.  The resolution was sharply criticized for obvious reasons.

In response, the Liberals got Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, to speak about the issue – probably their first mistake.  At 1PM, following inquiries to the Minister, the party responded by saying that it “has and always will respect the independence of the press.” The ministers office said that an independent press “is fundamental to our democracy” and called it “the best defence against disinformation.”

4 hours later, at 5PM, no doubt after the minister actually read the resolution in question, a second statement was released, saying, “A Liberal government would never implement a policy that would limit freedom of the press or dictate how journalists would do their work”.  That’s what Rodriguez’s press secretary, Laura Scaffidi, said in an email.

Uh oh, sounds like the panic button got hit.  Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, then issued his own comments on the matter:

“Liberals, like all Canadians, are right to be worried about misinformation and disinformation and wanting to make sure that Canadians are protected from it,” Trudeau told journalists on the way into a cabinet meeting. “However, that policy is not a policy we would ever implement.”

Have to admit, that’s a heck of a lot of distancing from their own party, that’s for sure.  I wonder if there’s a Red Bull competition for backpedalling.

If you ever wanted a big sign that online news is an incredibly tough business, one need not look much further than the recent bankruptcies and closures.  Advertising revenues are continuing to struggle, costing many in this industry considerable money.  The struggles were widely known back in February already and it seems that the struggling is only continuing.

Earlier this month, Buzzfeed announced that it is shuttering it’s entire news operation.  They cited a number of reasons including the fall of digital advertising, a rocky stock market, and the changing of their audience habits among others.

In the midst of those shockwaves, Vice Media Group, another organization that had a number of online properties, announced that it is declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The news of the bankruptcy was coupled with word that sections of the organization would be chopped up and sent into different directions.  The hope is that a smaller variation of the organization will re-emerge out of all of this.  Still, it’s a huge development in the world of online news.

So, if you want to help ensure Freezenet sticks around, definitely consider subscribing to our Patreon.  This business is far from easy to say the least and we really could use help at this stage.

Finally, Meta was fined 1.2 billion euro’s by privacy regulator, the Irish DPC.  Apparently, in the wake of the landmark Max Schrems lawsuits, there has to be privacy controls in place before people’s personal information can be sent out of the EU and into the US.  The rulings invalidated the agreements of the so-called “privacy shield” regulations that suggest that the US is safe enough to be trusted with people’s personal information, no questions asked.  Evidently, Meta decided to ignore all that and, without oversight, continue sending that personal information to the US anyway.  Complaints were filed and now we have this massive fine.  Meta says that it intends on fighting this fine.

Video Game Reviews

It’s been quite the marathon of news this month.  Now, let’s relax a bit 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 the game Torchlight II.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

For this month’s Playstation 3 game, we checked out Battlefield 3.  That video can be seen on the site and on YouTube.

This months XBox 360 game is Forza Motorsport 4.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

Finally, we round things out with the Playstation 4 game, Horizon Zero Dawn.  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 Burnout 3: Takedown for the Playstation 2.  A great expansion of ideas on the existing formula, nice gameplay, excellent graphics, and well done audio.  This game gets an impressive 86%.

Next is Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS.  Interesting concepts such as the jobs system, though the writing and the grinding can be pitfalls to all of this.  This game gets an alright 64%.

From there, we played Top Gear Rally 2 for the Nintendo 64.  Interesting idea of introducing car part durability, but things break way too easily.  With this being an overall letdown from the previous instalment, this one gets a merely passable 54%.

Finally, we played Silent Hill: Origins for the Playstation 2.  An interesting rethinking of travelling between the two worlds and an accolades system does offer some reasonably good gameplay mechanics.  However, the camera system and difficulty holds this one back.  Still, this one gets a reasonably good 70%.

Music Reviews

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

Carl Craig – Butterfly

Glenn Underground – 70’s Trip

Metallica – The Unforgiven II

Marilyn Manson – The Horrible People

Robert Miles Featuring Kathy Sledge – Freedom (Album Version)

Story of the Year – And the Hero Will Drown

CIV – It’s Not Your Fault

Ian Van Dahl – Castles In the Sky (Extended Mix)

Rob Zombie – Dragula

… and finally, Grindstone – Come Alive

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month.  This month, our pick of the month belongs to Burnout 3: Takedown for the Playstation 2.  Also, be sure to check out Story of the Year – And the Hero Will Drown and Ian Van Dahl – Castles In the Sky (Extended Mix).


Before we close out this month’s episode, I got one quick announcement to make.  As you know, Elon Musk has been pretty much burning Twitter down to the ground.  Between racking up legal liability to making completely incoherent and not well thought out decisions, more and more about the platform is breaking by the week.  One of the ways Musk has broken Twitter is restricting access to it’s API.  The problem is that JetPack is the plugin we use to share content to different platforms.  A little while ago, JetPack announced that it was unable to come to an agreement to resolve the issue of Twitters API being inaccessible to JetPack.  As a result, they said that they are ending support for Twitter sharing.

Now, we kind of let things fly to see how long it would take before the site was disconnected from Twitter.  This month, that connection was finally terminated.  We could look around to see if other plugins can still access Twitter, but the question in my mind was, “why?”  Doing so would be work and we would only be supporting the Musk Twitter dumpster fire.  Indeed, we got little traffic to our site from Twitter in the first place, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to me to just let the auto-sharing end.  So, the decision was clear: we have ended the auto-sharing of our news articles on Twitter.  We may poke in from time to time, but we will no longer be auto-sharing our news articles on the platform.  It’s been a nice run, but it looks like, for now, we are more or less parting ways at this stage.  You can still get semi regular updates on Tumblr and Facebook, but the most frequent updates will be found on Mastodon.

Godspeed to those still trying to hang on to the Twitter dumpster fire, but we are now out for the most part.

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 May, 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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