Freezenet’s Official Podcast: April 2022: Censor Wars: Episode 4 – A New Crackdown

In the 42nd episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “Censor Wars: Episode 4 – A New Crackdown”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in April 2022.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for April 2022. This months episode is entitled “Censor Wars: Episode 4 – A New Crackdown” after the introduction of link taxes in Canada.

This months episode also covers the media and governments misinformation campaign on Bill C-11, and the government blindsiding Canadians with copyright term extension buried in Budget 2022.

This month’s podcast also features all the usual music and video game reviews as well as how dial up can encourage students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. All this and more on this month’s podcast!

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

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


Censor Wars: Episode 4 – A New Crackdown

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 42 of the Freezenet official podcast for April, 2022.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Canadian government officials and supporters double down on false and misleading information on Bill C-11

Second prong on Canada’s Internet crackdown unveiled with the tabling of link taxes

… and Canadian government blindsides Canada with copyright term extension buried deep in the back of the budget bill

Top Stories

The Canadian governments obsession to crack down on the free and open Internet has been described by international observers as “bizarre”.  This month, the war on the Internet went into overdrive.  So much so, in fact, that it almost completely took over this month’s podcast.

Last month, we brought you the story of Liberal MP, Chris Bittle.  Bittle, as you might recall, had a full meltdown on Twitter.  This after facts grew far too inconvenient for his push for Bill C-11.  Bill C-11 is, of course, Canada’s social media censorship bill.

This month, things kicked off with other government officials posting false and misleading information.  The first misinformation push came from the official Canadian Heritage Twitter account.  One false statement suggested that Bill C-11 only applies to commercial content on major broadcasting services.  The statement was, of course, false.  This is because the bill is very specifically targeting large social media platforms.  What’s more is that regulations would affect non-commercial content through the recommendations section.

Another statement on the same twitter account was also misleading.  The statement said that Bill C-11 does not apply to digital first creators.  It references section 2 (2.1).  This is a misleading statement because it’s the digital first creators content that would get regulated.  This as per section 4.1 (2) and 4.2.  This misleading statement dates back to when Bill C-11 was known as Bill C-10 in the last government.  Specifically, the law deliberately misleads Canadians into thinking it doesn’t apply to them at all.  In fact, the bill only exempts the creators from regulation.  Their content, however, was always another story (hence why the deleted Section 4.1 became so famous in the first place during the last government).  So, this misleading statement got recycled from that last debate and is, still, misleading for the same reasons in this debate.

One piece of the puzzle that was generally missing from last month was this: what on earth went down at the Heritage Committee.  This is, after all, what sparked Bittle to attack creators online after in the first place.  Well, we did track down the video in question.  We watched and summarized what went down.  It was about as ugly as you can imagine.  Generally speaking, you had multiple witnesses joining the committee to speak about the creation process and how government laws apply.  While executives in their fancy suites were talking about tax reform and remuneration for their galleries, the two digital first creators were talking about how the Internet changed their lives for the better.

Whenever there was even a mention of Bill C-11, Bittle would interject with points of order on how the discussion was irrelevant to what is going on in committee.  The chair did note that if the witnesses are uncomfortable with the question, they are free not to answer those questions.  Of course, the digital first creators were all too happy to talk about how the legislation could negatively impact their careers and why.

Bittle later changed tactics and, in a later round of questioning, demanded to know which specific section was so problematic.  Yes, the witnesses didn’t have the bill in front of them, so no, they couldn’t cite the specific section.  Such a question, however, was widely considered inappropriate by outside observers.  Bittle insisted that the bill doesn’t do what the witnesses said it does.  When the witnesses disagreed, Bittle began attacking the witnesses.  At that point, a Conservative MP raised a point of order about how Bittle is badgering the witness and that such behaviour was inappropriate for the committee meeting.

As you know from our last podcast, Bittle later proceeded to lash out at the witnesses on Twitter.  When his questions were answered by experts, Bittle proceeded to launch personal attacks against the experts.  So, the situation spiralled out of control thanks to the irate Liberal MP who seemingly had an axe to grind against those who would dare question his bill.  At least we now have the context of what was at the root of this behaviour.  It really makes the MP look even worse.

From there, YouTube spoke out about the dangers of Bill C-11.  YouTube said that Canadian creators stand to lose foreign revenue should this legislation be made into law.

It was at around the same time that Liberals were backing off a little and said that tweaking the legislation might be an option.  Whether that actually happens or not and if the changes would be sufficient remains to be seen.  After all, we’ve seen such plays before where the Liberal party vows changes only to have those changes double down on the problems of the legislation in question.  So, we have reason to be skeptical of these overtures even if they sound promising.

The very next day, the Canadian government then started releasing cartoons to mislead Canadians about Bill C-11.  The misleading cartoons show a depiction of Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, answering a question about people who watch Netflix.  The answer was that Bill C-11 has no impact on people watching content, only that more Canadian content will get noticed and that the legislation only applies to companies.  Once again, this statement is false simply because the legislation does, in fact, regulate content not under the umbrella of a company.

The cartoon was quickly photoshopped to reword the question and have Rodriguez answer accurately.  The answer, of course, being that the changes Bill c-11 would make means less relevant content and fewer diverse voices.  On the flip side, they’ll see more content from government approved sources – mainly established corporations operating in Canada.

So, turning the misleading statements into flashy cartoons really didn’t make the misleading statements any more true.  You just had flashier misleading statements in the end.

Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, then decided to take a turn at misleading the Canadian public.  The effort, in short, was even more laughable than before.  Rodriguez said that COVID-19 was hard on musician’s and that Bill C-11 will make sure more money goes to those musicians.  The statement is hilariously bad because observers know that the legislation does no such thing.

Of course, the comedy of fail didn’t end there.  Rodriguez cited a news article to bolster his statement.  The article itself debunked those claims within the breakneck speed of the second paragraph.  Specifically, the article states, “overall Canadians gained record royalties from streaming platforms last year.”  Yeah, that’s a fail.

From there, others began chiming in over the music streaming royalties.  While it was, in fact, good news that more royalties were brought in, there was one thing that was very notable about the statements about what artists actually receive in the end.  SOCAN, a royalty collecting organization, said that artists received, on average, $67.  This claim was published in 2022.  Apparently, back in 2019, SOCAN was making a similar statement.  They claimed, at the time, that artists received, on average, drumroll please, $67.  This, of course, led to questions about whether artists were actually getting their fair share of royalties.  This after how the collecting society received more money year over year.  Indeed, if I was an artist and noticed that, I’d be looking at all of this and saying, “waaaait a minute.  Where’s my money?”

After that, notorious CRTC Chair, Ian Scott, tried his hand at misleading Canadians on Bill C-11.  In a speech, hilariously dated April 1st, Scott tried to post his own misleading statements.  The speech says, in part,

“Some have also said that Bill C-11 would give the CRTC the authority to regulate user-generated content on social media. That someone who uploads an original song on YouTube or a video on TikTok could be subject to registration, contribution or discoverability requirements.

That’s just not true.

As it’s drafted at the moment, the Bill draws a distinction between the users of social media, and the platforms themselves. It’s clear to us that the Bill’s intent is to exclude individual users from regulation.”

The text of the bill, in Section 4.1 (2), states, “this Act applies in respect of a program that is uploaded”.  So, the comments are false and can be disproven by the text of the bill.  University law professor, Michael Geist, remarked that the speech reads like an April Fools joke.  Based on that snippet we quoted, that’s a pretty accurate assessment from our standpoint.

For their next attempt to smooth things over on their side, Rodriguez then tried a different tactic.  He told reporters that he will ask the CRTC to clearly define what will and won’t count as “Canadian content”.  It sounds like a good idea, but he hinged that on one big caveat.  That big caveat is that Bill C-11 must pass first.  The caveat was pretty much a deal breaker for observers and advocates alike.  The response was a collective: “How about “no”.  Does “no” work for you?”

After all of that, this was just one part of the Liberals war on the open Internet.  Yes, we are just getting started with some of the asinine stuff the government was pulling this month.  This month saw the introduction of the second prong on the war on the open Internet.  That prong is, of course, link taxes.

Last month, we mentioned how the government said that the legislation was going to be tabled “soon”, but we hadn’t heard anything since.  Well, shortly after that podcast, a new development.  On the last day of March, we reported on the story about how link taxes appeared on the notice paper.  This is how Bill C-11 started and it looked as though link taxes was going to be coming in the same way.  For Internet advocates, this was the warning shot across the bow.

The link taxes would later be known as Bill C-18.  Just prior to the link taxes being tabled, we posted a reminder article about why link taxes are terrible just in concept alone.  For one, approaches from all over the world ended up favouring the largest established players in the publishing world.  In Australia, a good chunk of that money ended up flowing into the waiting hands of Rupert Murdoch – the same guy that owns Fox “News”.  Smaller players, well, got left out in the cold.

Further, link taxes completely upend the very concept of copyright law.  When you write a paper and have to cite your sources, you are not charged for citing those sources.  You might have been charged (directly or indirectly) to access those sources, but citing them requires no payment.  The same should be said about links which is the Internets version of referencing material.  By demanding payment for linking, it not only upends copyright law in an unprecedented way, but it also attacks one of the major building blocks of the world wide web as well.

What’s more is that there could yet be unintended and unexpected consequences.  Google could, theoretically, still simply refuse to link to news articles of any kind.  That would screw over every outlet operating in Canada.  What’s more is that legislative creep could take hold where the law would then get applied to smaller and smaller players as well.  It’s a bad idea that only risks getting worse from there.

It was at that point that the legislation got tabled.  So, we performed our traditional analysis on it.  To put it bluntly, its a nightmarish disaster.  The legislation envisions the CRTC putting up a list of news organizations receiving money from the link taxes.  However, exceptions are in place that says that the news organization can also ask to have their name not mentioned.  That would allow themselves to be excluded from the public list while still freeloading off of a different industry.

What’s more is that the bill mandates payments for linking.  So, if you are a smaller operator, like ourselves, and say, “This whole link tax thing is stupid, please exempt me”, then the law says, “screw you, the platform is paying to link to your site no matter what.”

Then, the legislation decides to be, well, pure evil. It establishes what service is qualified to be an “eligible” news outlet.  This is, of course, found in Section 27 which states:

“27 (1) At the request of a news business, the Commission must, by order, designate the business as eligible if it

(a) is a qualified Canadian journalism organization as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act; or

(b) produces news content that is primarily focused on matters of general interest and reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes, and

(i) regularly employs two or more journalists in Canada,

(ii) operates in Canada, including having content edited and designed in Canada, and

(iii) produces news content that is not primarily focused on a particular topic such as industry-specific news, sports, recreation, arts, lifestyle or entertainment.”

So, Section 27 (1) (a) basically means that large corporations and those with a business license can receive the money after.

Section 27 (1) (b) was clearly written to ensure all smaller players are excluded from eligibility – especially if you’re an online only operation.  Sections (i) and (ii) are bad enough, but (iii) is just pure evil at its core – and clearly written by the large corporations to specifically screw over the competition.

So, if you have a smaller sports news organization, you cannot receive funding.  If you have a smaller news outlet focused on life as a visible minority, then you are not eligible.  What about writing technology news such as Freezenet?  Chances are, we are excluded as well for that specific reason.  Even if we are employing enough journalists and even if we ensured the staff was Canadian enough, it wouldn’t matter.  We are an effective competitive player to the large corporate interests and we cannot be given the same privileges as the large corporations.  Therefor, the law was specifically written to screw news organizations, like us, over.

Finally, the CRTC would also be given the authority to pretty much change the law at will as it sees fit.  This is the same regulator that approved of the  anti-competitive Rogers Shaw deal in a heart beat to screw over competition in the telecom sector.  Who knows what evil intent the CRTC would have in store with that kind of power.

At any rate, everything about the bill is terrible.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is much worse than I had originally feared.

With so much bad about the bill, it was difficult to really summarize all that is bad about it.  So, we noted that we wouldn’t be surprised if there was something else that was awful about the bill that we overlooked.  Sure enough, something else was, in fact, discovered that made the bill worse.

Michael Geist noted that the bill goes beyond just linking.  Simply referencing or even facilitating access to news is enough to trigger a link tax requirement.  While the provision is, of course, stupid, the question that came to our minds was: why put that provision in in the first place?

After trying to go over the different link tax battles, we actually managed to find the likely source of why this was put into the law in the first place.

In 2019, when Google was still on the right side of history and fighting the link taxes, the search engine performed an experiment.  They read the law and adjusted their news aggregator service accordingly.  All direct links were deleted, all thumbnails were removed, all snippets were taken out, the headlines were deleted, and all context was removed as well.  The result of the experiment was that traffic to the outlets plunged by 45%.

For the context of this bill, the wrong lesson was clearly learned.  That lesson being to make sure Google can’t do something like that in Canada.  The correct lesson was, of course, that link taxes are a terrible idea and should not be pursued under any circumstances.

Still, Geist did rightfully point out that this provision alone renders Bill C-18 the most extreme link tax bill in the world – trouncing Australia’s terrible approach which largely only focused on snippets and headlines.  Just listing a news organization by name will compel a service to send payments to that service according to the law.  An idea so terrible, it’s actually kind of remarkable.

Of course, large Canadian news outlets did their part to prove to the world that they cannot be trusted with news stories that could benefit their business interests.  Throwing journalistic integrity to the wind, the large outlets became a factory of pro link tax propaganda that was filled with false and misleading information.  So, we ran a fact checking program in response.  The results were, well, about as bad as you would expect.

Among the claims were that Bill C-18 includes smaller news players (the bill, doesn’t, in fact, do this), that media outlets would otherwise not survive (the outlets have a number of government programs to keep them afloat both COVID related and by the simple fact that they are a journalism outlet), that the US already has a link tax in place (straight up false given that the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act – the likely act this is referencing – has not yet passed in the US), that this law is just about aggregators and social media reusing content (which was debunked given that this bill is also about linking and even goes as far as to include mere facilitation of access to news), and the borderline defamatory statement that suggested that Google places their ads on third party websites without the publishers permission and takes the money (publishers have to request code from Google which they then have to place on their sites themselves, meaning that ads on publishers sites are placed there with permission and the publisher receives a cut from the revenue after).

It was kind of staggering just how bad some of the false and misleading statements were.  It exclusively relied on readers not having all the facts and tried to trick readers into thinking something that is not actually true.  The whole campaign was just plain shameful on the media’s part – not just for proving far right extremists right about media bias, but also being so bad at it on top of it all.

So, it’s one thing to point out how unbelievably stupid some of the things the media outlets are doing.  It’s quite another to point out how those same outlets could be succeeding instead.  Basically doing all the research work for an entire industry isn’t uncharted territory for us, but in this case, we decided to roll our eyes and say, “OK, we’ll point out the obvious then.”  So, we listed 5 ways media outlets could be successful without ridiculous link taxes.

Those ways are:

1. Not simply treating your news site as nothing more than a glorified PVR

2. Actually putting money and manpower into promoting and maintaining the site instead of leaving it to some volunteer in the workplace to take care of it.

3. Fostering a community on your site instead of just offloading that to a platform like Facebook.  That platform will happily gobble up the ad revenue out from under you for all that user interactivity.

4. Offer premium subscriptions to users who want to more directly financially support the site.

5. Not paywalling everything and crying that no one wants to read your site after.

The article goes into detail about what we mean more specifically, but we also included why the media won’t do these simple things.  It largely boils down to the outlets being too lazy or too cheap to, well, better themselves.  Our response is that we’re fine with it since we’ll happily just mop the floor with them after with fewer resources.  Just don’t come crying to us after when the money continues to dry up.  These are, after all, choices the outlets made for themselves.

Now, some of you might have looked at our article and said that some of these articles supporting Bill C-18 are just editorials and are just the opinions of individuals, not the outlets themselves.  So, if someone had an opinion piece saying that Bill C-18 has flaws, they would get published too!

While the defence sounds reasonable, that defence pretty much self-destructed this month.  Carleton University professor, Dwayne Winseck, authored his own piece on Bill C-18.  He reasoned that the legislation won’t solve a lot of the problems facing the media today.  One such problem is the decreasing competition as outlets keep buying each other in Canada.

Well, after submitting the piece to the National Post, it seems that executives “spiked” the editorial – meaning the publisher refused to run it.  This painted an even darker image of how anything that supports Bill C-18 would get published, but anything even remotely criticizing the legislation would get stamped out of existence, never to see the light of day.

In response, Winseck responded on Twitter, “Spiked! The commissioned short version of this post was just spiked by the defenders of liberty & free speech @nationalpost. With liberty & [free speech] on such shaky ground, who can you trust? Apparently, not Canada’s biggest newspaper group, @postmedianet”

How do we know about the contents of the article?  Winseck posted it to his own site so that anyone could read it after.  So, we have a pretty good idea of what the media attempted to censor.  The development pretty much nuked the defence that the media is just publishing opinion pieces and proved just how biased they really are about stories they have a commercial interest in.

Later on, we spotted the story about the budget bill.  There was a section devoted to link taxes.  In it, the Canadian government earmarked $8.5 million over the course of two years to enforce the link tax legislation.  In our view, this number is suspiciously small if you really believe that every news outlet out there will benefit from the money coming out of link taxes.

Let’s break these numbers down to explain why.  $8.5 million over the course of two years works out to an average of $4.25 million per year.  Let’s be extremely generous to the budget and assume that every employee working to enforce the link tax will get $40,000 per year.  This isn’t even including benefits among other things.  So, straight dividing that number, that works out to 106.25 employees.  You’ll have management involved, so let’s dial that number to a generous 95 employees.

It’s even more generous because we are not including the cost of renting out office space, the spinoff jobs such as janitorial staff and IT services, contracting work such as legal, building maintenance, and other expenses including basic office supplies.  So, yes, we are being super generous to the budget here.

Now, think about this: 95 people are expected to decipher what service will or won’t count in the entire Internet.  You might fool yourself into thinking that since you really only follow, at most, a dozen or so different news sites, that there can’t really be that many out there.  The problem is that those news sites are probably tailored to your specific interests in one way or another.  There are very likely thousands of news sites out there.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are over 100,000 news sites online in existence today.  Even if we just pare down the number of news sites to that 100,000 figure, that still means each employee will have to audit, on average, 1,052.6 websites.  That is a laughably high workload volume.  For those who think that someone can seriously handle that in a reasonable time: yeah, let me laugh even harder.

So, under what scenario does 95 employees make sense?  If the government already has in mind which websites to include and which ones to exclude, then that does, in fact, make a whole lot more sense.  If the largest players are already tagged for inclusion, then 95 employees can easily handle that.  This just largely proves our point that this link tax was written to solely benefit the largest publishers while screwing over their competition.

Shortly after, we raised another serious question: what counts as “a particular topic”?  This is a direct quote from the bill that if you do focus on “a particular topic”, then you are no longer eligible.  We basically drilled this down even further and found that this is a much more murky subject then what the bill would lead you to believe.

Take us, for instance.  A lay man who doesn’t know anything about what we write might just cast us off as just a “tech” news site – thus concluding that we are just a single topic site.  Of course, drill down deeper, and the argument isn’t necessarily cut and dry.

For instance, we often cover issues surrounding people’s personal privacy.  That tends to draw a particular audience.  We also cover issues surrounding copyright law.  That also draws its own audience.  We also sometimes cover business and industry related news.  That is its own topic altogether.  We also sometimes cover general tech news as it relates to the Internet.  Again, its own topic.  The real question is, where do you draw the line between different topics?  What is too close together and what is its own separate topic?

What’s more is that we also publish music reviews and video game reviews. Is there a particular ratio we have to shoot for to be considered “general interest” enough?

Also, news tends to ebb and flow.  All you have to do is just listen to our past podcasts to realize that.  Sometimes, certain tech topics takes the spotlight.  Other times, it can be privacy.  We just ride the waves of developments as best we can.  Is there a certain timeline that we have to cover different topics?

Really, any web developer that owns a news site will probably find themselves asking very similar questions as well.  We are far from unique in asking these kinds of questions.  Either way, it’s a safe bet to say that this question alone makes this bill an incredibly messy one.  The provision in question, section 27 (1) (b) (iii), is quite deceiving with how simple it sounds on the surface.

One aspect of this bill also worth mentioning is lobbying.  As we pretty much concluded with ease, this is a bill written largely by lobbyists.  According to lobbying records, MPs were lobbied, on average, once every four days to push this legislation forward.  That, to be fair, is a lot of time and money being invested into this lobbying effort by an industry claiming to be poor and hard done by.  It leads one to wonder if all that funding already earmarked for these outlets were simply dumped into lobbying efforts after.

Either way, it does explain why the legislation was so one-sided in the first place.

This leads us to our third big story that really came out of nowhere.  Canada’s copyright term extension.  It wasn’t a big part of the election, nor was it really debated much in the public.  Instead, it was buried in the back of Budget 2022 in Annex 3.  The provision calls for the extending of copyright terms from life plus 50 years to life plus 70 years.

Legal scholars have been calling on the government for some time to simply implement an application system.  If a company wanted their content to have an additional 20 years of protection, they can apply for it.  This lets all the other work finally settle down into the public domain.  This would satisfy any voluntary obligations in the USMCA trade agreement.  At the same time, it also reduces the harm the Canadian economy would suffer from through copyright term extension.

It appears that these calls went ignored.  What’s more is that copyright term extension has nothing to do with budgetary considerations as well.  This effectively made it behave like American lawmaking.  When you want a bill to pass, but don’t want public scrutiny of it, bury it in must-pass legislation and hope no one notices.  It’s precisely what ended up happening here.

Of course, as you can hear in this podcast, the provision didn’t go unnoticed and the hidden provision became very much public as well.  In response, law scholars basically gave a collective “WTF?” and wrote an open letter to the Canadian government.  Signed by numerous scholars in the law community, the letter reads, in part:

“In addition to imposing an additional and superfluous “tax on readers”, extending the term of copyright will also have a profound impact on Canadians’ freedom of expression—their ability to access and use expressive works created by others, and their ability to incorporate and build on those works in their own expressive activities. Such negative impacts are not merely hypothetical, but are well theorized and empirically proven.”

So, suffice to say, there’s not a lot of people outside of the corporate world that are happy with this.

It’s been quite the wild ride this month, so let’s look at some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

The CRTC made another terrible decision this month.  As some long time observers might call it, “business as usual”.  This month, the regulator rubberstamped their approval of the Rogers Shaw merger.  The deal threatens to lower competition and quality of service while raising rates.  Unsurprisingly, this appeared to sound like a great idea for the regulator.  It looked as though they couldn’t approve of the “deal” fast enough.

The American government is trying to unleash another bad copyright policy.  This time, it’s known as the SMART Act of 2022.  The legislation is quite sinister on a number of levels.  What it does is that it mandates upload filters.  However, being the stereotypical American bill, it doesn’t actually explicitly mention “upload filters”, but does what it can to describe them.  The real sticky part is that the legislation is so broadly worded, that it basically allows the US copyright office to take in anything that Hollywood and major record labels demand as “standard technical measures” and apply them to the Internet at large.  Ultimately, it can mean anything – beyond upload filters which is one of the bad Internet policy flavours of the year in the US.

Canada and the US are negotiating an agreement under the US’s infamous CLOUD Act.  In 2018, the CLOUD Act was part of significant debate in the US.  It essentially allows law enforcement to obtain access to users personal information regardless of where they live in the world.  Provisions would allow the president to enter into agreements with foreign countries to allow law enforcement to access that personal information.  This without following each other’s respective privacy laws.  The information being targeted is what information is stored on websites, rather than what ISPs have.  Still, that really is the only thing separating this potential agreement and the Lawful Access debates of old.  If this goes through, many privacy experts agree that it would have significant implications of people’s privacy in Canada.

While the news on the digital rights front has been quite depressing in Canada, we did catch one story that was actually a bit of good news.  After a hugely controversial consultation process, the Liberals released a report about what they heard for their online harms proposal.  In it, they admitted that the proposal itself was flawed – especially with the 24 hour takedown requirements (ya think???).  So, in response, they have chosen to delay the legislation so they can retool it in the background.  As a result, the legislation now risks blowing past the 100 sitting day promise.  A relief all around that this is getting delayed in the first place.

In a follow-up to that story, we brought you another development in the online harms proposal and consultation process.  The government was attempting to hide the responses in the consultation.  Well, in the initial days following the end of the consultation, Michael Geist also issued an ATIP request, asking for the rest of the responses.  After months of waiting, they finally arrived.  Over eleven hundred pages packed together into a 1.3GB PDF file was released and publicly posted (yes, we got a copy of it).

Initial reactions are that the backlash towards the proposal was much more significant than previously disclosed.  In fact, Twitter even compared the blocking requirements in the online harms proposal to dictatorial regimes like China.  Yeah, they were that mad about it.  Honestly, who could blame Twitter for making that comparison?  Can’t disagree with the assessment given that we, at one point, referred to the blocking ideas to the “Great Firewall of Canada”, so this isn’t exactly a unique perspective.

Still, the backlash was quite daunting to see and just opening that PDF file can be an overwhelming experience in and of itself.  What’s more, it left the question open as to why the government felt it was necessary to hide the submissions in the first place.  It was only after the ATIP request that it was forced to release them.  It really doesn’t make any sense at all.

Before Google and Facebook chose to throw the whole Internet under the bus with regards to link taxes, there was one other major tech company that was, in fact, earlier throwing the whole Internet under the bus.  That company was Microsoft.  While the debate was in full swing, Microsoft was egging the link tax on in an effort to try and hurt its rivals in the search industry.  Bing, of course, being the search engine few voluntarily use.  The hope seemingly was that if Microsoft was going to help the newspaper industry out with link taxes, then they would get a sweet deal in return.

Well, that apparently backfired.  Microsoft offered the European press industry 700,000 euros while the press demanded 20 million euro’s.  In response, the press are now taking Microsoft to court, saying that Microsoft is effectively stiffing them.  Kind of hard to feel sorry for Microsoft on that one.  On the plus side, there’s a million references to make in the process.  One good one?  Microsoft never thought that the face eating leopards would eat their face.

Back in Canada, it seems that the government is quietly trying to find another way to crack down on digital rights.  This is what we termed “digital frisking” at the border.  The law is found in Bill S-7 and would revive border security’s ability to download the contents of your cell phone, laptop, or other digital storage devices you happen to be bringing with you.  The legislation seems to be in response to an Alberta Court of Appeal ruling that found that such law enforcement activity is unconstitutional.  So, the legislation literally invented a brand new legal term known as “reasonable general concern” to skirt the ruling and re-implement digital frisking.  Reports indicate that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was not consulted on this.  Human rights organizations are reportedly appalled at the new legal language.  Some describe the legal standard as “shockingly low”, pointing out that it’s a much lower threshold than the more commonly known thresholds of ‘reasonable suspicion’ and ‘reasonable cause to believe’.

The Canadian Cabinet has decided not to intervene in the CRTC MVNO decision.  An MVNO company (or Mobile Virtual Network Operator) requested access to publicly funded Internet infrastructure so they can start a small carrier business.  The CRTC decided that such requests from small companies would pretty much always get denied.  The move largely shut down smaller startups in the cell phone industry.  Digital rights organizations were hoping that the federal government would intervene so that real competition can start sprouting up in the sector.  Those organizations were ultimately disappointed in the decision, leaving some to wonder if there ever will be a way to have competition in the wireless sector in Canada.

Finally, there is a new development in the California network neutrality legal challenge.  ISPs have been trying to overturn a lower court decision to toss the case and to outlaw network neutrality in the state of California.  The ISPs requested an “en banc” hearing so they can appeal the decision.  Well, they apparently ran into a problem.  Not one of the 29 judges in the state volunteered to hear the case.  As a result, the en banc petition was denied.  Much to the smiling delight of American’s watching the legal case closely, that’s one more option that just went out the window for ISPs.  The moment that gavel struck, you can almost hear Nelson in the background: ha-ha.

Video Game Reviews

So, another incredibly busy month here on Freezenet to say the least.  Now that you made it this far into the podcast, 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 the first Steam game we played, we checked out Far Cry 4.  You can check out that video directly on our site or via YouTube.

For this months Playstation 3 game, we tried the game Grid 2.  That video can be watched directly on our site or on YouTube.

As for this months XBox 360 game, we played Gears of War 3.  That video can be seen on our site or on YouTube.

Finally, for the other Steam game we played this month, we tried FlatOut 3: Chaos & Destruction.  Despite the technical problems we ran into recording this video, it can be watched on our site or on YouTube.

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

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

First up is Magical Tetris Challenge for the Nintento 64.  A game that takes the formula of Tetris and adds a very interesting twist to it.  A great game that scored an 82%.

Next is The Lion King for the Sega Genesis.  Great graphics and nicely done voice acting.  Unfortunately, the underlying gameplay wound up being a letdown.  This one wound up with a 66%.

After that, we tried Super Offroad for the Sega Genesis.  No real long term goal or ending, but otherwise a game that plays very well.  This one gets a great 80%.

We then tried Earthworm Jim 2 for the Sega Genesis.  A bit of inconsistency between levels forces players to continually relearn how the game is played.  Still, the style of the game really gave this its own experience.  What’s more is the fact that the sound effects really shone through here.  A very solid game that gets a 78%.

Finally, we tried Worms for the Sega Genesis.  Great underlying concepts, but the overall execution really caused this one to fall short of its potential.  A game that got a fairly bland 66%.

Music Reviews

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

Brother Cane – And Fools Shine On

Silverchair – Tomorrow

AC/DC – Hard As a Rock

Goo Goo Dolls – Name

Dave202 – Departure (Club Mix)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – My Friends

Seven Mary Three – Cumbersome

… and finally, Everclear – Santa Monica

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month – and boy was it a competitive month this month.  This month, our pick of the month month belongs to Dave202 – Departure (Club Mix).  Also, be sure to check out Magical Tetris Challenge for the Nintento 64 and Super Offroad for the Sega Genesis.


And in other news

There’s no shortage of stories about people refusing to do their part in the fight against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.  However, this next story has a rather amusing twist.  Emory University rolled out a new program to encourage those who hadn’t gotten vaccinated to get the shot.  The program?  Threaten to put those students on dial up Internet connections unless they got the shot or provided a medical reason why they can’t get the vaccine.  Of the 1,300 students who didn’t show they had gotten all three vaccines, about half of those students either applied for an exemption or got the vaccine.  It took all of one week to get such a result. Aww, no one wants to relive Internet life from the 90’s all over again?  Think of the Geocities blink tags!  The blink tags!

Three researchers from the University of Colorado aerospace engineering department wanted to better understand extreme weather in the area.  So, to further their research, they decided to fly a drone to get a better lay of the area.  It seemed like a good idea, but apparently, their drone flying capabilities that day left a little bit to be desired.  Their drone crashed into the ground.  The lithium ion batter cell came out and ended up causing a 52 acre wildfire.  The fire in question then ended up being known as the Table Mountain Fire.  The fire sparked evacuations, but no structures were lost and no injuries were reported.  I bet the researchers can’t wait for the news stories to come out of that study.  ‘A new study suggests that Colorado wildfires are caused by research drones.  Lawmakers responded by drafting a bill that would ban the use of research drones in the state to guard against future wildfires.  The legislation is known as Fire And Research Containment and Exclusion, or FARCE for short.  The hope is…”  … and that’s the sound of the Colorado research community shouting, “Drew… don’t even…”

In Texas, there was an experiment to try and lower deaths caused by distracted driving.  So, LED boards warned drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.  The boards gave a death toll as well to hammer the message home.  A subsequent study was done to see what effects those signs had.  The findings were a bit unexpected.  As it turned out, the signs themselves actually increased distracted driving, causing more accidents.  In retrospect, I can actually see that.  “Wow, 1,639 people died on this stretch of highway due to distracted driving.  Huh… now there’s some food for thought.  Oh shoot!”  *screech* *crash!*


Before we close out this month’s episode, we got one quick announcement to make.  This month, we released the March Wiki content patch.  Last month, the archiving project made it all the way up to episode 440 on the Future Sound of Egypt.  It was a smaller update, but with the heavy cloud of what could be in store later on.  That being the episode 450 mega show.  This month, we made significant progress.  Not only did we get to episode 450, but we also completed the archiving process of it as well.  We then forged ahead all the way up to the episode 500 mega show.  That episode also got fully archived and we even made it all the way up to episode 501 for good measure.  So, a heck of a lot of work was done this month.  We’ve also updated the archives of the Future Sound of Egypt, Fables, Resonation, the V Recordings Podcast, and the Random Movement Podcast to have the latest episodes as well.

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 April, 2022.  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, and Tumblr.  Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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