Freezenet’s Official Podcast: December 2022: The Big Five Oh / Year End Special

In the 50th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “The Big Five Oh / Year End Special”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in December 2022.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet Official Podcast for December, 2022. This month’s episode is entitled “The Big Five Oh / Year End Special” because it is not only the 50th episode for this podcast, but also the year end special as well. A double special if you will.

The final episode of the year features the last parts of the Bill C-11 Senate hearings as well as some updates that happened after those hearings wrapped.

Additionally, this episode features the pair of political scandals facing a Liberal MP as we cover the Bill C-18 Link Tax story. Also, we cover the continued destruction of Twitter at the hands of Elon Musk.

With all of that, we also cover all the usual music and video game reviews.

Since this is the year end special, we also look back at 2022, the year that was. We count down the top 10 video games and music tracks we reviewed this year. Also, we cover the top 10 stories of the year.

All this and more on this month’s podcast!

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

What follows is a transcript for this months podcast:


It’s The Big Five Oh and the Year End Special

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 50 of the Freezenet official podcast for December, 2022. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Bill C-11 Senate hearings wraps up.  Multiple amendments changes the legislation.

Liberal MP, Lisa Hepfner, faces major political scandal after accusing online media outlets of being “not news”.  This as Bill C-18 moves forward in the political process

… and Elon Musk goes on massive censorship rampage on Twitter, mass banning journalists and links to rival platforms like Mastodon

Top Stories

It’s been a marathon run with these Bill C-11 hearings.  This month, we have finally reached the end of them.  Last month, we left off with the first half of hearing 18 with the CRTC which includes CRTC Chair, Ian Scott.  It was a hotly anticipated hearing especially given how much the CRTC confirmed how the bill would regulate user generated content and demand algorithmic manipulation.

In the second half, there was a particular moment when Senator Paula Simons spoke about Section 4.2.  Specifically, her comments were on how the CRTC seems to be choosing to interpret the section in a different way than what was actually in the text of the bill.  The moment was also marked by a particularly viral moment when things got heated towards the end of the exchange.

[Scott clip]

So, for those of you who were seeing organizations like Digital First Canada publishing video’s with cat logo’s urging the fixing of Bill C-11, that was specifically the moment that ultimately sparked that whole series of videos.

Surrounding that was, of course, very important questions about the difference between what the CRTC says is their interpretation of the bill and the text of the bill itself.  That disconnect is hugely problematic not only because there is a conflict between what the CRTC says they will do and the text of the bill, but also the question of what future governments and future CRTC commissions may do.

Now, what you may not know is that the exchange between Simons and Scott wasn’t the only tense exchange that went down in that hearing.  In fact, the other tense exchange happened right after between two senators.  Senator Dennis Dawson is a huge backer of Bill C-11.  Senator Leo Housakos, the chair of the committee, has been critical of the bill.  It may have been, in part, because Senator Dawson was sensing that the hearing was backfiring pretty spectacularly at this point and with Housakos next on the questioning, he didn’t like the idea of seeing the hearing backfiring even further.  That ultimately led to this tense exchange:

[Dawson clip]

Whoa.  Uh, yeah, that happened.  I mean, Housakos was actually trying to raise a very valid question.  Sure, the current government and the current CRTC chair might view the legislation in a certain way, but what about future governments and future commissions?  After all, as the Simons and Scott exchange clearly highlighted, there is a conflict between what the current CRTC commission sees in the legislation and the actual text of the legislation.  There really is nothing stopping future commissions and governments from looking at the bill and saying that, well, the bill was written in this manner, maybe we should enforce it in this manner.  Unfortunately, the exchange was cut off by Senator Dawson, so we never really got an answer to those questions.  Still, they were actually very important questions to ask.  I suspect that supporters of the legislation really really really don’t like talking about that angle of the bill, though.

There is, of course, the line that they were running over time.  I’m not sure that this was anything other than a cover to try and adjourn the hearing at that point.  Throughout the debate in the last year or so, I’ve seen countless times the government trying to limit debate and silence criticisms of the bill.  Examples include efforts through so-called “gag orders”, tracking down and harassing critics on social media, ending debate early so they can rush through amendments (which ultimately led to provisions being shoved into the bill at the last minute which even supporters of the bill were critical of), and other tactics.  Supporters have worked hard to ensure as few people know about the bill as possible and that there is as little debate as possible about this bill itself.  Senator Dawson’s outburst, trying to shut down debate, is right on brand with those tactics I’ve seen on the lead up to these hearings in the first place.

We then move on to hearing 19.  This is the final hearing of this series.  If there was any doubt that this was a long series of hearings, apart from this going on for about four months now, then maybe the thought of how there were over 38 hours of testimony that was heard in total may help drive home that point.  So, for those who are hearing all of these hearings through this podcast, yes, you are getting a really really abbreviated version of these hearings.

Hearing 19 wasn’t quite as hotly anticipated as the CRTC hearing.  Still, it did feature the Heritage ministry.  It was broken up into two segments like others, but Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, only featured in the first segment.  Rodriguez is generally considered the official architect of the bill.  Unofficially, critics would easily argue that it was lobbyists from the establishment that wrote the bill, but officially, he was the guy that wrote it.  The hearing was less about maybe the ministry would add something insightful to the debate and more of a hearing that was seemingly required in order to say that the committee heard from all sides.

Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much in the way of insight that was added thanks to the Heritage Minister.  To be fair, though, it wasn’t from a lack of trying from the Senators.  Here’s Senators Michael MacDonald, Pamela Wallin, and Jim Quinn trying to not only get something out of Rodriguez’s presence, but trying to glean insight as well.  This ultimately proved to be, well, Mission: Impossible as it turned out.  Yeah, cue that movie’s theme song:

[Rodriguez Clip]

Yes, that was three senators giving it their best shot, but only getting complete and utter nonsense from the Minister.  Literally, nothing the Minister said in that clip was even remotely true when he was able to conjure up a complete thought.  Section 2.1 doesn’t exclude user generated content, only the people behind the video’s.  When you look up Drake or Celine Dion on these platforms, you will get those artists content.  I mean, you really could write a 3,000 word essay on why Rodriguez is wrong based on that clip alone.  Trying to get any sense out of the Minister really was like trying to draw blood from a stone.  Seriously, no amount of effort was ever going to succeed.

The Minister seemed to have just been coached on a series of talking points and he didn’t even seem to be aware of the questions being asked to him most of the time.  In case you were wondering, most of the rest of the hearing was just as bad.

In the second segment, Owen Ripley largely took over as the person that answered most of the questions.  Unlike the Minister, Ripley appeared to actually be aware of what was in the bill.  As an added bonus, he even seemed to be aware of his surroundings at the time as well.  In fact, Ripley seemed to be the most aware of the wording of the bill out of all the Heritage Ministry officials I’ve heard from.  It was clear based on his ability to manipulate the text of the bill to try and confuse Senators about what is actually in the bill and what was not.

Senator Pamela Wallin spoke about someone who was communicating with her.  Ripley responded by trying to twist the wording of Section 2.1 to pretend that her content was excluded from the bill.

[Ripley clip]

Not exactly the most reassuring response.  This really falls well within the category of responses we’ve seen that says ‘just trust us’.  Just to further emphasize, Section 2.1 means that the person creating the content won’t be regulated.  Section 4.1 and 4.2, however, says that the content they produce will be regulated.  That is ultimately the source of concern.  Yes, no one is worried that someone’s door is getting busted down because they uploaded an otherwise perfectly legal vlog posting.  What people are concerned about is that their vlog posting, which might get a reach of about 12,000 impressions in Canada, will get squashed down to a mere 50 Canadian impressions instead.  This is because the platform was ordered to prioritize other content, namely the mainstream broadcasters content.  That is where the real concern is.  By saying that Section 2.1 means user generated content is out of the bill, you are basically trying to add confusion to the debate.

Can you believe it?  We did it!  We made it to the end of the hearings.  It was a very long road for me.  Senator Paula Simons told me that it was also a very long road for the Senators as well.  Still, after all that effort, we somehow managed to make it all the way to the end of the hearings.  I’m personally surprised I didn’t burn myself out part way through trying to follow these hearings to this degree and just stop altogether.  Still, despite how overwhelming it all was, here we are at the finish line.  I honestly hope you got something out of these hearings after all of that.  Maybe you got some added context and information out of my analysis in all of it.  As long as someone out there got something beneficial from that coverage, I’ll be happy to say that it was all worth it.  So, thank you for sticking with us throughout it all.

Now, while the hearings were over, the debate carried on.  What followed was clause-by-clause review of the bill.  Senators were able to table amendments to the bill and vote on them.  Many good amendments were, unfortunately, voted down.

One amendment that made it through, however, was of immediate concern.  That is Senator Julie Miville-Dechene’s amendment to add age verification to the bill.  The idea is that if a website contains adult material, then users must verify their age to continue to view content on that platform.

Now, you might look at that and think about everything that was said throughout the Bill C-11 debate and say, “Uh… what?”  The confusion is perfectly normal because literally no witness throughout the entire Senate hearings asked for that.  It’s not even really relevant to the rest of the bill either.  Unfortunately, the Senator seemed to go full moral panic and managed to get this amendment through.

The amendment raises a whole pile of privacy concerns.  How would websites verify the age of users?  Who stores that very sensitive personal information?  How would it adequately be stored?  Is there a threat that someone could break into that website, steal that information, and start demanding ransoms because your information was found on such a database?

It opens a massive privacy can of worms that shouldn’t ever be touched, let alone shoe-horned in such an irrelevant piece of legislation.  Unfortunately, it’s an 11th hour addition no one asked for and now this legislation is even more controversial and potentially unconstitutional than ever before.  It’s one of those developments that’s so bad, it’s actually an accomplishment.

While that was extremely bad news, there was another development that I can openly admit I didn’t see coming.  An amendment was not only tabled, but passed, seemingly fixing Section 4.2.  I honestly didn’t think that Senators would have the votes to offer a fix of any kind.  I’ll read out what Section 4.2 now says:

”     (2) In making regulations under subsection (1), the Commission shall consider the following matters:

(a) the extent to which a program contains a sound recording that has been assigned a unique identifier under an international standards system;

(b) the fact that the program has been uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by the owner or the exclusive licensee of the copyright in the sound recording, or an agent of the owner

(c) the fact that the program or a significant part of it has been broadcast by a broadcasting undertaking that

(i) is required to be carried on under a licence, or

(ii) is required to be registered with the Commission but does not provide a social media service.”

Uh, did the Senate just fix the bill?  Like, I read out this section several times and I can’t figure out how this section regulates user generated content now.  Like, holy blank, they may have just fixed the biggest problem of the bill!

The reaction was universally positive.  Everyone that I’m aware of has responded by saying that this is a big step forward.  Immediately, I didn’t see anyone say that this section still regulates user generated content.

Now, that’s not to say that the bill is now problem free.  To be sure, there is still the issue that the legislation demands money to be extracted from platforms and handed to traditional broadcasters and producers.  This while barring the digital first creators who have been working hard to create that value in which that money is derived from.  So, the system is totally unfair in that regard.  There’s also still the issue that this legislation blatantly violates CUSMA and opens Canada up to trade retaliation through Article 19.4.  There’s other problems also associated with the bill as well.

At the same time, though, this appears to, at least, fix the single biggest problem of the bill.  My reaction to this change is the idea that if the other bills shut down my website entirely, it’s actually possible Freezenet could survive on video and audio sharing platforms.

Another big caveat to this is the fact that the government has to agree to these changes.  The option is certainly there where they could respond by saying, “no, change it back”.  That would offer the clearest signal yet that the whole point of the legislation is to regulate user generated content.  This could also be a set up for a rather interesting showdown between the Senate and the House of Commons which is apparently very uncommon these days.

The question is, at that point, would the government actually go down such a road?  An exchange between Senator Dawson – the same tantrum throwing Senator you heard earlier, and Senator Paula Simons suggests that this is actually a very real possibility.

Senator Dawson: “The proposed amendment would create loopholes. I’m repeating what Senator Gold said on earlier amendments today, that the amendment would create loopholes for social media platforms to avoid contributing to Canadian culture, which, as you know, is the objective of the bill. ”

Senator Simons: “I just wanted to say briefly in response to Senator Dawson’s concern that if you read our amendment, it specifically includes exactly what you were worried about. We have been very surgical with this amendment. This does not eliminate all of 4.2. It scopes it so that it actually does what the government has told us it wants to do. It makes it very clear that social media users are not included. I know, Senator Dawson, you would like us to take the government at its word, but it is that clause about “directly or indirectly generates revenues” that has concerned so many people. Further, the issue is not that we think individual TikTok makers or YouTube makers are going to be asked to contribute to the system. The question was one of whether they would be captured by discoverability, and this amendment, I believe, limits the degree to which those kinds of users are going to be captured by a discoverability paradigm.”

We don’t know for sure where the government will head to from here, but this seems to potentially offer a precursor to where things might head.  Hopefully, the third reading will wipe out the age verification amendment and keep the 4.2 fix.  For right now, though, a whole lot is currently up in the air.  Again, I totally didn’t see this development coming.  Things could get rather, uh, interesting.

So, looking forward, there’s not a lot of runway left with Bill C-11.  There is third reading as the Senate committee process is now officially complete.  Then, the House of Commons and Senate levels have to agree to specific language.  After that, the bill goes through the final stages of royal assent.

Another piece of the puzzle that has been intentionally withheld from public view is the directive from the government.  The directives are basically instruction to the CRTC, the regulator tasked with managing what is laid out in the bill, about how to enforce this legislation.  The government has barred the public from looking at this directive even though it’s a big part of enforcing the legislation.  There’s also the inevitable litigation that’s going to ensue.  What’s more, there is that possibility of intervention from the United States as they have openly said that they have concerns with the bill.  So, there is a lot of steps left to go, but the window for the general public to have any input is fast closing.  Open Media has a petition for anyone to sign still, so if you are concerned with this legislation, I encourage you to sign that petition.  If you are a creator, there is also the petition by Digital First Canada that you can still sign if you haven’t already.  Both are great ways to have your voices heard if you haven’t already done so.

One of the biggest sources of misinformation about Bill C-11 has long come from mainstream media.  This month, one such example came from the Globe & Mail.  In their article, they suggested that French culture is under threat by big tech.  As a result, Bill C-11 is promising to save the day and rescue French culture in Quebec from the evils of YouTube and TikTok.  Obviously, none of that is true.  Bill C-11 does nothing to protect Quebec culture, but rather, protect establishment interests from competition coming from the internet.  Additionally, platforms like YouTube and TikTok have only served to help Quebec and French culture thrive.  This by allowing citizens in that province to be their own creator and promote themselves to the world.  If anything, Bill C-11 threatens to undermine that.  You can read the full tear-down of that bad article on Freezenet.

In a followup, we published 10 big myths surrounding Bill C-11 and debunked each and every one of them.  Myths we debunked include the idea that Bill C-11 “levels the playingfield”, that anyone can apply for public support if they produce content in Canada, that Bill C-11 complies with all of Canada’s international trade obligations, that Bill C-11 is a conspiracy by the World Economic Forum, and even the myth about how Bill C-11 increases transparency of the algorithms on platforms.  The hope is that I was able to catch all the big ones at least as there are lots of other myths surrounding Bill C-11 out there, but if you want a quick reference to the most common myths surrounding Bill C-11, we offer a nice quick guide on what is and is not true about the legislation.

Finally, the YouTube Creator Liaison has published a video about the updated version of Bill C-11.  I know, in other news, YouTube has a YouTube Creator Liaison.  In that video, he mentions how Bill C-11 still regulates user generated content.  He says that the Senate has done a great job clarifying what the CRTC should do, however, the language still leaves it open to interpretation enough that user generated content is still regulated in the bill.  How specifically that is the case was unclear.  There was only the vague notion that the Senate didn’t change the level of discretion, so user generated content is still potentially regulated in the bill.

[Liaison clip]

So, not entirely clear what language allows him to get to that conclusion, but it is a conclusion that he has.  From my perspective, this is the first time anyone I’ve seen step forward in response to the newly amended bill and say that user generated content is still in.  Whether this is a case of him seeing something I do not or maybe he’s reading too much into the bill somehow, I really don’t know.

This isn’t to say I see the user generated content problem being gone from the bill completely.  After all, as I mentioned earlier, the government could still theoretically reject the 4.2 fix and demand that the old language get re-inserted.  That is entirely possible.  What I don’t see is how the current version of the bill still regulates user generated content.  Don’t get me wrong, I did look for it in the context he provides.  At this time, though, it appears that we both have different conclusions.  So, I’ll be on the lookout for a better explanation, but in the mean time, I personally don’t really follow at this time.

Moving on to the second big story.  Canada’s Bill C-18, or link tax legislation, is moving forward.  It’s further back in the process than Bill C-11, but is moving ahead in the process quickly as well.  There’s huge reason to be concerned about the legislation.  In fact, in some parts of these debates, there is question over whether or not Bill C-18 is, in fact, worse than Bill C-11.  Obviously, this bill hasn’t escaped our attention.

This month, things kicked off with Liberal MP, Lisa Hepfner, finding herself mired in a political scandal.  During a hearing, she accused online outlets of being “not news“.  What?  Do you think that this can’t be true?  Does that sound like something got taken out of context or maybe a misunderstanding?  Don’t believe me at all?  Alright, roll the tape!

[Hepfner Clip]

The punchline?  She constantly refers to herself as a journalist!  She really doesn’t know her industry at all, does she?

In response, her asinine remarks went viral as she started taking flack from real journalists.  As she took on more and more heat, she posted an apology on Twitter.  The apology, however, was a bit backhanded.  She wrote, “I apologize to digital news outlets whose reporters consistently produce important work, which takes considerable resources to create. #C18 will support digital journalists in their work.”

Obviously, Bill C-18 is unlikely to support their work as it is well known that link taxes largely serve to benefit the largest players much more than anyone else.

As that was making the rounds, the United States, through the Ambassador to Canada, Katherine Tai, renewed the US concerns with both Bill C-11 and Bill C-18.  This is at least the second time that the US has raised their concerns and it doesn’t appear that the Liberal’s work to make them- how did they word it?  Make them understand what’s going on with the bill or something?  Anyway, it doesn’t appear to have had any impact on reducing the threat of international trade retaliation.  A statement on the USTR website reads, in part, as follows:

“Ambassador Tai expressed concern about Canada’s proposed unilateral digital service tax and pending legislation in the Canadian Parliament that could impact digital streaming services and online news sharing and discriminate against U.S. businesses.

The two agreed to continue to collaborate on addressing these and other issues.”

Uh oh, America doesn’t sound pleased.  In response, Canada issued its own statement, removing all references to Bill C-11 and Bill C-18.  It’s a move that appears to many experts as an effort to try and ignore the issue and hope it all goes away on its own.  Yeah, good luck with that!

From there, an amendment was added to the legislation.  As a result, one of the sections of the bill now reads as follows:

“as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act, or is licensed by the Commission under paragraph 9(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act as a campus station, community station or native station as those terms are defined in regulations made under that Act or other categories of licensees established by the commission with a similar community mandate”

University law professor, Michael Geist, pointed out that this change matters a lot because it means that the production of news is now no longer a requirement to benefit from the link tax.  What matters is that you have a license from the CRTC.

The whole premise of the legislation, or, should I say, what the government claims to be the whole premise of the bill, is to support journalism.  Now that news production is optional, the claim that this is about supporting journalism goes completely by the wayside.  The practical effect is that the money would theoretically be divided up by more smaller players.  So, if you are a small community news organization, your piece of the pie just got a heck of a lot smaller – not that it was all that big to begin with.

While Hepfner accused digital news outlets of being opinion only, it seems that the charge is better suited to the more mainstream outlets hawking Bill C-18.  In a story published in the Financial Post, the author referred to online news sources as “often questionable startups“.  This as the author baselessly claimed that the legislation is being slowed down by “tech giants”.  If anything, though, it shows that the accusations that small digital news outlets are somehow not really part of the journalism ecosystem isn’t simply tied to a few asinine comments made by a Liberal MP at one point.

Unfortunately, later on, the legislation passed and made it to third reading at the House of Commons stage.  This inches us one step closer to the link tax apocalypse.

Last month, we mentioned numbers released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.  The numbers suggested that $329 million is expected to be extracted from the bigger platforms.  Roughly 75% of that money would get earmarked for the largest players while the remaining 25% would be fought over by everyone else.

Being the curious sort that we are, you know, typical behaviour for a real journalist, we plugged that $81,550,000 per year figure into a calculator.  Then, we divided it by a rough guesstimation of how many players would theoretically get that money.  Obviously, it won’t divide up nicely as some players will inevitably get a better deal than others.  Still, assuming it would get divided up evenly, that works out to something in the ballpark of $46,151 per year.  Better than nothing?  Maybe.  Something that would totally revitalize the entire industry?  Hardly.  At most, you might get another journalist out of the deal and that’s, well, it.

This month, however, we are learning that even those numbers might actually be exceedingly optimistic.  According to the Department of Canadian Heritage, those numbers may have been exaggerated by over 50%.

Instead, the internal modelling by the Heritage Ministery pegs the total number in revenue to be closer to $150 million.  So, assuming the 75%-25% split, we ran the numbers again to find out what the new figure would actually be.  Again, this assumes that every small player gets an equal share.  The number we came to, per player, is $21,222.41 per year.  Depending on region, that’s not even enough to pay someone part time, minimum wage.  A journalism industry revolution this is not.  More like a ripoff to everyone who isn’t the biggest players in the sector.

While the shockwaves of those latest revelations were being absorbed, it seemed that Liberal MP, Hepfner, wasn’t done being on the receiving end of political scandal.

In a series of tweets, the MP stated, “As a former journalist, I’ve always understood and appreciated the importance of local, community news. I’ve consistently been a champion of journalism, which is why I am so pleased to have worked on a piece of legislation that will ensure more revenue for news outlets, more transparency, and the protection of journalistic independence. After meeting with stakeholders, hearing form witnesses and deliberations at committee, today Bill C-18, the Online News Act, was passed in the House of Commons and will be making it’s way to the Senate. Our gov’t will always support quality, fact-based and local Canadian journalism in a fair digital marketplace. This bill makes it harder for big digital platforms like Facebook and Google to steal local journalists’ articles and repost them without credit on one of their networks.”

The remarks sparked even more condemnation from real journalists and people working in the industry.

Jeff Elgie, CEO of media outlet, The Village, said, “They don’t “steal” our content. We willingly publish it on those platforms.”

Marc Edge responded, “linking to something – anything – on the Internet is not stealing it or reposting it without credit . . . it is instead promoting it by sending traffic to that website”

Max Fawcette said, “They’re not stealing it. They’re sharing it — you know, extending/expanding its reach.”

The backlash only continued from there.  At the very least, though, it saved me from having to explain all of this myself.

Now, the numbers I cited earlier hinges on the idea of platforms willingly going along with this in the first place.  It would appear that this may not be the case.  Facebook, this month, issued a statement in the US telling American’s that they may consider blocking news in the US.  Part of their statement reads as follows:

“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscription,” Stone writes. “The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act fails to recognize the key fact: publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around.”

Those comments were echoed in Canada as well.  Meta said that Bill C-18 “forces us to consider removing news from Facebook in Canada rather than being compelled to submit to government-mandated negotiations that do not properly account for the value we provide publishers.”

In response, Heritage Minister, Rodriguez, threw a temper tantrum and accused Meta of trying to intimidate Canadian’s.  The absurd remarks showed a continued belief that Meta’s comments were just a bluff and that they would magically somehow just agree to this for no real reason.  This after news that Facebook was forced to make deep cuts to save money.  All of this over top of the fact that the advertisers are preparing for a recession next year.  All of this puts financial pressure for Facebook to just block all news links across North America altogether.  If you thought $21,000 per year was something to aim for anyway, I’m sure Facebook turning around and saying, “how about nothing”, sounds even less appetizing in all of this.

In another development, it appears that history may be repeating itself with this legislation.  Like Bill C-11, it appears that Senators are unlikely to rubberstamp Bill C-18.  Instead, there is appetite to pass this legislation onto committee.  If this holds true, you could very well hear about the Bill C-18 senate hearing specials next year.  Senator Paula Simons commented that she had grave misgivings about the legislation.  She also remarked that the bill is flawed and dubious.  She added, “The Senate is not in the business of rubber-stamping bills”.

Yes, we don’t know for sure at this time that the legislation will, in fact, be part of a Senate committee hearing process, but this is looking quite likely at this point.  Definitely one bit of good news on that debate at the very least.

Finally, I could definitely get a sense of the seemingly impending doom for a lot of news outlets out there about this bill.  For a lot of news outlets out there, they depend on platforms like Facebook to get their content out to potential readers.  So, the idea that news links could actually be blocked on these platforms could mean the difference between life and death for some of these outlets.

As luck would have it, Freezenet isn’t one of those websites.  In fact, should link taxes become the law and platforms block all news links, Freezenet would largely be unaffected.  So, this month, I published a sort of survival guide to get other news outlets thinking about life beyond news links.  In other words, how do small websites survive should big platforms suddenly bar their links?  In short, the article suggests adding focus to non-time sensitive news articles.  Things like community calendars or information about local businesses would be great ideas of this.  As I pointed out, news still has its place in this potential post freedom of the press world, but it takes on a very different role.  As opposed to the news promoting the website to new users, it’s more about audience retention.

The idea behind the article is to get smaller outlets that have solely depended on links posted to platforms to re-think their strategy as a means of adaptation.  Bill C-18 is a major threat to journalism, but it may not be a complete death sentence in and of itself.  Yes, it will hurt journalism outlets of all shapes and sizes, but it is possible to survive.  So, hopefully, the article offered some hope and some ideas when it comes to surviving the impending link tax apocalypse.

Finally, Elon Musk went on a massive censorship rampage on Twitter this month.  Following the previous effort for Musk to ban people daring to criticize his decisions, it seems that the anti-free speech billionaire decided to take his censorship campaign to a whole new level.  This month, he banned several journalists.  The move seemingly came as a response to reporters covering an account called ElonJet.  The account documented publicly available information about the jets general location.  The account was suspended along with several other related accounts.  After pointed questions about the move, Musk responded with the made up story about some sort of assassination plot and falsely accused the account of so-called “doxxing”.

Obviously, doxxing involves the public disclosure of sensitive documents of an individual not typically made available to the public.  So, the publicly available information of a jets public location is not even close to being considered doxxing.  Nevertheless, Musk decided to mass ban journalists who may or may not have covered the story.

The thin-skinned billionaire then took his censorship campaign to the next level and banned the JoinMastodon account.  Shortly after, a new rule was set up threatening anyone who posted links to alternative platforms that they are on with bans as well.

In response, observers have concluded that Musk has simply taken his promises of free speech and chucked it into the trash.  Some even went so far as to say that Musk is only committed to being a blatant hypocrite who is in way over his head.

So, once again, another eventful month this month.  Now, let’s take a look at some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

There was a wave of relief among a number of Canadian citizens this month.  The CRTC has miraculously done something that was actually in the public interest.  They have rejected the application for Telus to apply fees onto customers using a credit card.  The good news, however, came with a caveat.  This will only apply to customers within the CRTC jurisdiction.  So, some customers might soon get slapped with the fee anyway.  Still, critics believe that Telus will simply find another way to raise the rates of customers to make up for this failed attempt to gouge customers.

Also this month, we covered the US’s efforts to ban TikTok.  A bill, sponsored by Marco Rubio and Mike Gallagher, was tabled called the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (or the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act).  The stupidly named bill was tabled because TikTok collects personal information.

You might be asking, what is so outrageously different about TikTok collecting personal information when almost every other platform does the exact same thing?  Bang on question because this sort of activity has been standard fare for years from the likes of Google, Facebook, and other platforms.  The only difference is that the parent company of TikTok, Byte Dance, is from China.  A few conspiracy theories later, and we find ourselves with the idea that a whole platform could be blocked.

As many long term observers of my coverage would know, the US has pushed some very anti-privacy initiatives over the last two decades.  This includes legislation that would grant legal immunity to ISPs that hand over all of your personal information to the NSA.  There’s the PRISM program.  Another example is the effort to ban effective encryption all over the world.  Yet, astonishingly, when it’s a platform that happens to have Chinese ownership, suddenly personal privacy is a huge priority.

Even worse is that banning TikTok would do little to nothing to advance the interests of personal privacy.  Ultimately, the bill, well, solves nothing in the end.

In terms of quality, television has long been in a state of decline.  Long gone are the days where television had a thriving variety of programming such as game shows, scripted television, and a whole bunch more.  Instead, television today is little more than a shadow of its former self, relying on the remaining few straggling reality TV show fans, broadcast news to some degree, and, of course, the biggest source propping them up, live sports.  No question that a lot has changed in the last 30-40 years.  So, little wonder why cord cutting has become such a big trend among those seeking entertainment.

Now, live sports, for some observers, is probably the biggest obstacle to the cord cutting trend.  After all, if you are a hardcore sports fan, it is going to be difficult to get live sports unless it’s from television or part of a television package.  In fact, live sports is largely credited for keeping people roped into hugely expensive television packages when the value just isn’t otherwise there to entice people to pay so much for television.  Back in June, that seemed to change when Apple TV managed to ink a deal to carry live MLS games.  At the time, observers note that this might be some early cracks in the dam for the remaining cord cutters that haven’t made the jump.

This month, however, there is a much more well known brand for North American sports watchers that is seemingly making the leap to online streaming services.  That is non other than the NFL.  Reports suggested that YouTube has inked a $2 billion multi-year deal to carry the Sunday Ticket games.  The deal will no doubt put further pressure on other sports leagues to end their TV exclusivity and join in on offering streamed events over major platforms.  This might include the NBA, the NHL, and others.  Either way, a significant development that will no doubt add worry for broadcasters who seemed content with just continuing with business as usual.

Video Game Reviews

If you reached this point in the podcast and are tired of hearing about all of this drama, I have good news for you.  We have reached the entertainment section.

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

This month, we checked out the Steam game, Call of Duty 2.  That video can be seen on our website and on YouTube.

Next up, we played the Playstation 3 game, DiRT.  That video can be seen on our site and on YouTube.

That was followed up by Bejeweled 3 for the XBox 360.  You can check that video out on our site and on YouTube.

Finally, we finished up the whole year by checking out the Steam game, Half-Life: Opposing Force.  A video that 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 the Playstation 2 game, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec.  Weird difficulty curve and stripped down tracks leaves me disappointed.  Graphics really carried this game, but one that only manages to score a mediocre 62%.

After that, we reviewed the Playstation 2 game, Call of Duty: Finest Hour.  A game that gets the basics done, but not a game that impresses in any way.  So, a game with a very average 60%.

From there, we played the Playstation 2 game Need for Speed: Underground.  A very solid game with some good customization options.  A very decent tracklist also makes this an even better game.  So, a game that gets a very solid 74%.

Finally, we played the Playstation 2 game, Call of Duty 2: Big Red One.  While it has a few interesting features, many features were stripped out entirely from the previous game.  So, a disappointing game that gets a barely passable 54%.

Music Reviews

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

Aqua – My Oh My

Cheap Trick – Carnival Game

Hanson – MMMBop

Feeder – Cement

Grand Theft Audio – As Good As it Gets

Radiohead – Karma Police

Megadeth – Trust

… and finally, The Prodigy – Breathe

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month.  This month, our pick of the month belongs to Grand Theft Audio – As Good As it Gets.

Year End Top 10 Lists

As is tradition for the end of the year, we look back at some of the best things we’ve reviewed all year.  Here is the top 10 best games we’ve reviewed this year along with their respective scores:

10. Road Rash (Sega Genesis) – 80%

9. Road Rash 3: Tour de Force (Sega Genesis) – 80%

8. Super Off Road (Sega Genesis) – 80%

7. Hot Wheels Turbo Racing (N64) – 80%

6. Magical Tetris Challenge (N64) – 82%

5. Timesplitters: Future Perfect (Playstation 2) – 82%

4. Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Genesis) – 84%

3. Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls (N64) – 84%

2. Super Off Road (SNES) – 86%

… and the best game we reviewed this year goes to Pilotwings 64 (N64) – 92%.

Switching gears, here are the top 10 best tracks we’ve reviewed this year:

10. Robert Miles – Children (Dream Vrs.) – 8/10

9. Smith & Pledger – Forever (Original Vocal Mix) – 8/10

8. Grindstone – Threshold – 8/10

7. Interactive – Set Me Free – 8/10

6. Grand Theft Audio – As Good As it Gets – 8/10

5. Airbase – Roots (Andy Blueman Remix) – 8/10

4. “Weird Al” Yankovic – The Night Santa Went Crazy – 8/10

3. ATB – Feel Alive (Airplay Mix) – 8/10

2. Black Light Posterboys – If the Animals Could Talk – 8.5/10

… and the best track we listened to this year is Dave202 – Departure (Club Mix) – 8.5/10

I hope you enjoyed those lists as much I enjoyed making them.  We certainly look forward to finding out what is in store for us next year as well!

Now, another tradition we have during these year end specials is to go back and count down the top 10 stories of this year as well.  I have to say, going through the big stories this year, it didn’t feel like this all happened in the same year.  It’s like I borrowed some stories from last year to round things out.  However, this all came from this year if you can believe it.

So, the moment you’ve been waiting for, here is Freezenet’s selection for the top 10 stories of the year for 2022!

Number 10: California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act – or AB 2773

This truly is a story that came out of nowhere.  What’s more, is that this bill could have enormous implications for anyone running a website in that state – which is a lot.  In September, this story cropped up and it was, indeed, a worrying sight to see.  The legislation would compel websites that are “likely to be accessed by children” – which is basically everyone – and force them to confirm that everyone there is over the age of 18.  How would they do that?  Some suggest that websites would be forced to conduct facial recognition scans of all of their visitors – you know, because that isn’t a massive privacy fiasco in and of itself.  Further, every single feature of a website would be required to have a “Data Protection Impact Assessment” (or DPIA) that needs to be renewed every two years.

The legislation passed the California Senate 30-0.  From there, California governor, Gavin Newsom, signed the bill into law.  The good news is that this law doesn’t come into force until 2024, leading some to speculate that this gives web owners plenty of time to file a lawsuit and sue the law out of existence.  Still, it was a terrifying and quick development that really soaked up a good portion of September.

Number 9: Canada’s privacy reform bill

This story really picked up steam back in June.  After other jurisdictions passed their own privacy reform bills years ago, Canada was really lagging behind, well, everyone.  While countless people continued to have their information compromised, Canadian lawmakers dithered and dragged their feet over this bill.  Last year, the government said that this bill was finally on its way, but those promises were quickly followed up by radio silence.

Then, in June, the government suddenly broke their silence and finally tabled the legislation.  While this has been a long awaited bill, the reception of this bill was, at best, luke warm.  Barely nothing had changed in the bill outside of a few minor language tweaks.  For the most part, it fell flat with critics who openly wondered why the government was taking so much time to table this bill in the first place when so little work was even done on it. There were still the same issues with the bill and it seemed like Canadians were in for a new debate, same as the old debate.  After that, the story seemingly faded into the background.  A shame, really, because a lot of good could still come from such a piece of legislation.

Number 8: The Anti-trust efforts against “Big Tech”

You might look at this story and scratch your head.  Anti-trust efforts against Big Tech?  Well, if you are struggling to remember, yes, that was a pretty big story back in the early parts of this year.  I don’t blame you for not remembering because I had to check my notes to remember this one myself.

What was going on in January was actually a follow-up to the potentially huge story from 2021 where governments all over the world were ramping up anti-trust litigation against the likes of Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet.  Legal developments included Facebook being unable to block the FTC efforts to file a lawsuit. Germany, meanwhile, seemed to open the door to filing an anti-trust effort against Google.  In the Netherlands, Apple was issued an ultimatum to either allow more competition or face massive fines.  In the US, there was an appeal over an anti-trust suit against Facebook.  Amazon faced an FTC probe over its AWS services as well.

While that just seemed like a rundown of a number of pieces shifting all over the place, the story suddenly grew explosive with revelations from then freshly unsealed court documents.  The case was brought by multiple US states and had Google on the defence.  The allegations said that Google had a scheme known as Project Bernanke.  The allegations said that Google may have suppressed publisher revenue by as much as 40% going all the way back to 2013.  This while they allegedly charged full price for parties taking out advertising.  Allegedly, Google more or less pocketed the difference.  The allegations were quite stunning and many tech observers were giving a collective WTF in reaction to this story.

Google, for it’s part, filed to have the case dismissed, saying that the lawsuit represents a collection of grievances, but no evidence of wrongdoing.  An interesting response given the stunning nature of the allegations.  Obviously, nothing has been proven in court, hence the emphasis on words like “allegedly” and “allegations”.

Some developments spilled over into February when Amazon was forced to shut down the “Sold By Amazon” program.  This as the company also paid $2.25 million to the attorney general.

Additionally, there was some developments in the Apple vs Epic case – that’s the case where there really doesn’t appear to be any “good guys” anywhere.  Epic appealed the decision, seemingly making the court story drag on.  While it seemed like the momentum was only destined to continue through the rest of the year, the story surprisingly fizzled after that.

Number 7: Rogers Attempting to Buy Shaw

This has been an off again, on again story.  In August, though, this was well and truly an “on again” story.  Canada’s telecom sector has very little competition.  In fact, the lack of competition in the sector is so bad, it makes the American telecom sector seem like a competitive market by comparison.  As hard as it is for some American’s to believe, it really is that bad.

Anyway, there really is only four big players in the sector: Telus, Rogers, Shaw, and Bell.  Rogers and Shaw are largely separate in different parts of the country, so, for the most part, there is more or less only three players in the whole country at most.  So, as you can imagine, Rogers buying Shaw would mean that the situation would go from a sort of 3 player system to a mostly 3 player system.  There’s an extra regional player in Saskatchewan and Quebec.  Either way, its a big way for the sector to operate more like a monopoly.

Well, in August, the effort to complete the mega merger was pushed to the end of the year.  You might be asking that, now that it is the end of the year, are there any developments?  Well, I looked, and, as of the writing of this script, there really isn’t much in the way of developments if you can believe it.  There’s still some decisions being made.

While the push in and of itself is hugely controversial, the public relations front got even worse for Rogers when the company suffered from a massive outage.  The shut down caused huge portions of the Canadian economy to grind to a halt.  Credit card transactions were no longer working, the Internet, of course, was not working, and, most distressingly, people lost access to 911 services.  So, not only did it stall the Canadian economy, but there was also a rather sizable threat to public safety thrown into the mix as well.  Yeah, and there are people who still tell me that tech news is a niche issue that affects almost no one.  Sure thing, there!

In light of all of that, CEO, Tony Staffieri, made the astonishing argument that the outage was bad, but neither Rogers and Shaw had the financial capital to fix the issue.  The only way to fix the issue, according to that jackwagon, was to allow the merger to move ahead so work could begin to address this issue and ensure that this outage never happens again.  On what planet does that make any sense?  Someone tell me that he got slapped up the back of the head for making those comments.  Suffice to say, he didn’t exactly win over very many hearts and minds with that one.

Another attempt to sweeten the pot was floating the idea of spinning off Freedom Mobile to Videotron.  This in exchange for allowing the deal move ahead.  Yeah, how about “no”, does “no” work for you?

Number 6: The rise and fall of the Freedom Convoy terrorist occupation

Right wing extremism was extremely hard to miss this year as well.  Starting in February, the terrorist movement sought to violently overthrow the democratically elected government as they hijacked critical infrastructure and ground the city of Ottawa to a standstill.  The swastika covered occupiers threatened and attacked civilians while causing significant health problems along the way.

Amidst all of that, police stood by and largely did nothing for much of the occupation.  There were efforts to stop the surge of right wing funding coming from the US.  This included the freezing of the GoFundMe page.  This effort only emboldened American extremists who pushed to funnel money through churches and cryptocurrencies to keep the occupation going.

As city police and provincial officials were content with just pointing fingers at each other while trying to justify doing nothing, eventually, Prime Minister Trudeau would be the one to act.  By March, the Emergencies Act had been invoked so that large trucks would finally be towed.  All those excuses of it being impossible to tow such rigs suddenly vanished.  Streets were eventually cleared out and several organizers were arrested.  It would mark the first time real action was made since Ottawa citizens won a court injunction against the 24/7 honking that would ultimately be only enforced at times.  Social media would, once again, also prove to be a huge trove of evidence with communications going back and forth as well as numerous pictures and video being taken of the events.

Mercifully, the extremist occupation did come to an end, but not without lasting damage.  This includes a more negative view of the sight of the Canadian flag, well documented symptoms of PTSD from numerous citizens in the Ottawa area, and much more.

Number 5: Tech companies exodus out of Russia as War on Ukraine intensifies

Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has touched almost every part and sector in the world.  Technology and digital rights is no exception to that.  Without provocation, Russia invaded Ukraine, launching missiles indiscriminately against civilian targets.  In response, western nations rallied behind Ukraine, not only providing aid to Ukraine, but also laying sanctions against Russia for their attack.

In response, many tech companies began to exodus out of Russia.  This includes companies like PayPal, Visa, Master Card, Microsoft, Netflix, and many many other companies.  Russian officials contemplated blocking Facebook as well.

What’s more, RT and RT France was taken off the airwaves in Canada.  This, of course, limited the Kremlin’s efforts to push misinformation onto western airwaves.  Everyone was taking a stand against Russia for their war crimes and the tech sector was all too happy to join in on these efforts.

This isn’t even mentioning the growing prominence of the flag of Ukraine online as people from around the world joined in supporting Ukraine and Ukrainian civilians.  It is a huge sign of solidarity to say the least.

Number 4: Canada’s Link tax law (Bill C-18)

Canada’s second prong on their war on the open internet revolves around Bill C-18.  This is, of course, Canada’s link tax law.  The link tax law is very similar to other ill-conceived efforts in places like Australia.  In short, it considers links posted to social media as something that requires compensation.  While mainstream media outlets tried all year to confuse the issue by pushing the lie that platforms are reposting whole articles without compensation, the law, and what it’s aimed at, is truly about linking, snippets, and even mere references to an outlet.

The story cropped up quite a bit in our top three headlines all year, appearing in April, August, October and, of course, this month.

The story really got pushed to the forefront in April when the government tabled this disastrous bill after it appeared on the notice paper.  As it turned out, it was worse than originally feared.  We ran our analysis on this horrifying bill and confirmed many of the worst fears about the bill.  For instance, Section 27 would bar any organization from opting out.  So, if you are a small news outlet and decided that you wanted no part and wished to opt out, the law bans you from opting out in this way.  So, all news links require payment in the eyes of this legislation.

From there, the law also stipulates that smaller outlets would likely be excluded from being allowed to be compensated.  In short, eligibility requirements demands that there be two arms length journalists and not focus on “a particular topic”.  So, the legislation was designed to make sure only larger traditional players will get the benefits of link taxes.

Merely “facilitating access” to news is also part of the bill.  So, if a platform simply writes, for instance, “The National Post”, then that requires compensation.  No link, snippet, thumbnail, or anything else is required.  In the eyes of that law, that counts as facilitating access to news that requires payment.  On a side note, the CRTC would be granted the power to change the law at will at any time as it sees fit.

Separately, Google rightly pointed out that the same provisions barring small outlets from financially benefiting from this law would also force platforms like Google and Facebook to pay money to foreign troll farms like ones from Russia.  The wording of the bill could potentially put these platforms in a position of either abiding by sanctions against Russia or complying with Canada’s link tax law.  This is because platforms can’t point to an obvious troll farm and say that they refuse to issue payouts according to this same law.  So, another huge point of concern there.

In response to the initial wave of responses, mainstream media outlets began nixing articles that has even the slightest whiff of criticism levied towards the bill.  This would only be the beginning of the media casting aside their credibility in favour of pushing articles that act in their own business interests exclusively.  Another highlight that month was the fact that MPs were lobbied by the media establishment, on average, once every four days to push this bill forward.

In August, news reports surfaced that 4 in every 1,000 links on Facebooks main feed were to a news article.  This really proved to be the beginning of the push by Facebook to move away from paying link taxes.  This was quickly followed up by Facebook announcing that it would no longer pay US publishers for news links.  It really put Canada’s publishers on notice as a result of this.

In October, there was a hearing held at the House of Commons.  Unfortunately, it proved what a joke the hearing process was at the House of Commons level.  Precious little progress could be derived from the hearing as MPs supporting the legislation were more interested in scoring political points rather than seeking an understanding of the bill.

Google also conducted a poll to get Canadian’s opinion on Bill C-18.  They hired Abacus Data to carry this out.  As it turns out, Canadian’s largely shared the same concerns as Google.  What’s more, a large majority of Canadians knew little to nothing about the bill.  That result flew in the face of lobbyists and MPs supporting the bill who claim that Canadians are very well informed about the bill – no doubt a claim that was news to Canadians as well.  Heritage Minister, Rodriguez, threw a temper tantrum about the development and accused Google of trying to avoid accountability for the crime of getting opinions from Canadians.

Facebook, for its part, issued a statement, suggesting that it may be forced to block all news links in Canada.  Meta said, in part, “faced with adverse legislation that is based on false assumptions that defy the logic of how Facebook works, we feel it is important to be transparent about the possibility that we may be forced to consider whether we continue to allow the sharing of news content in Canada.”

This month saw a number of key developments.  This includes the moving forward of the legislation.  As of this writing, it has completed the House of Commons stages and has not started the Senate process.  Liberal MP, Hepfner, drew two separate political scandals when she accused online news outlets of being “not news” and accused platforms of “stealing” news articles from journalists.  The latter for the crime of allowing links to the publishers news articles.  Real journalists, of course, expressed outrage at the remarks and issued direct responses to her allegations.

A series of models were produced to forecast what smaller media outlets could get out of it.  Each model progressively looked more and more grim for the smaller outlets.  The numbers projected suggest that smaller outlets might not even get enough financial support to pay for a part time, minimum wage employee.

Separately, there was an additional call of concern from the US ambassador to Canada.  The ambassador pretty much singled out Bill C-11 and bill C-18 as points of potential trade friction between the two countries.

Additionally, Facebook renewed their threats to block news links in both Canada and the US.

Really, it would be a surprise if this doesn’t become a major story going into next year.

Number 3: Free speech in crisis following Roe v Wade overturn in US

The US Supreme Court shocked democratic nations and observers around the world this year.  In May, a double unprecedented thing happened.  First, something actually leaked from the US Supreme Court – a branch of government many observers say never leaks.  The other unprecedented thing about the leak was the fact that the US Supreme Court was gearing up to overturn the landmark decision of Roe v Wade – a decision that, among other things, affects a woman’s right to choose.  So, numerous reasons for observers to be stunned by what was happening.

In response, digital and civil right organizations started gearing up to try and protect women both online and offline.

By July, the ruling had been made official and women were gradually realizing that they have fewer rights than men in the US.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a video offering basic security advice for women to better protect their personal privacy.

Facebook and Instagram got pulled into controversy after reports surfaced that they were mass censoring posts about abortion pills.  While such a controversy would normally land the platforms in hot water, there is the fact that the platforms were simply following the new laws as enforced by the US Supreme Court.  It was an awful situation, but I found it hard to fault the platforms on that one.

The story was followed up by fresh concerns that Republicans were also working on legislation aimed at cracking down on a woman’s right to travel as well.

All in all, this story really showed how quickly democracy was eroding in the US.  It was terrifying and infuriating to witness.

Number 2: Elon Musk buys and burns down Twitter

This was well and truly a roller-coaster of a story.  For some, it may have started off as a ridiculously stupid story destined to go nowhere.  By May, Elon Musk was openly proposing that he would buy Twitter.  Initially, he said it was to bolster free speech, but he later admitted that he intended on keeping all the “good” content and banning all the “bad” content.  Far right users, bolstered by botnets, were actively cheering this on because, for them, in their deranged alternate universe they love to live in, it was a way to “own the libs”.  Some were openly saying that this effort is “making the libs cry”.  Some went even further and called for the banning of people openly thinking of leaving Twitter.

In response to these developments, users were already starting to flock to alternatives.  At the time, Mastodon and Countersocial were go-to destinations.  For many users, the idea was to simply register in the event that things go south on the platform.

In July, Musk had apparently changed his mind and was wanting out.  This resulted in legal action.  Twitter aimed to move the trial forward quickly while Musk tried everything in his power to delay the proceedings into the new year – an effort that ultimately failed as you are well aware of now.  Many, including those working in the stock markets, were legitimately convinced that this deal would eventually fall through.

Those beliefs, however, would prove to be wrong.  In November, the $44 billion takeover was completed and Musk was now the new owner of Twitter. Musk famously walked into Twitter headquarters carrying a bathroom sink, marking the first moments of things going completely off the rails.  To say that Musk came in like a wrecking ball would be an understatement.

Shortly after taking over, Musk fired a huge portion of the executive board – many of whom did a lot to keep Twitter afloat.  He then proclaimed that free speech was going to be his top priority while selling the Twitter blue check mark for $8 – an idea that caused impersonations of brands and celebrities to skyrocket on the platform.

After that, he fired half of the staff on Twitter, sparking even more users on the platform to join alternatives – primarily Mastodon.  Hate speech went through the roof on Twitter.   In response to the chaos and destruction, advertisers started pulling their advertising dollars from the platform as they realize that it was becoming increasingly not brand safe.  Musk responded to the exodus of advertisers by threatening to go “nuclear” on them – a move that likely drove more advertisers to the exits.

As morale plummeted on the platform, Musk threatened to declare bankruptcy.  The website continued to suffer from responsiveness issues and spam was fast becoming a huge problem on the platform.

This month, Mastodon continued to be a huge beneficiary of Musk screwing up pretty much everything.  Of course, Musk wasn’t done yet with his campaign to burn the whole platform down.

Musk then started mass banning journalists and even banned the JoinMastodon account.  Further, links to Mastodon were flagged as “unsafe” and a new policy was hastily implemented banning users from promoting themselves on other platforms.

Musk also re-instated Trump and a number of known white supremacists.  Additionally, he conducted a poll asking if he should resign as CEO.  The poll closed and a majority of votes said that Musk should resign.  The Aristocrats!

This leads us to our pick for the 2022 story of the year…

Number 1: Debate intensifies over Bill C-11, leading up to the Bill C-11 Senate Hearings

This is probably a surprise to exactly no one listening to the podcast.   Bill C-11 is Canada’s first prong on their war on the open Internet.  The third prong is online harms, but that, surprisingly, never really reared its ugly head this year.

In March, the credibility of the legislation was already at rock bottom.  In the House of Commons, NDP MP, Matthew Green, asked Liberal MP, Mark Gerretsen how digital first creators would benefit from Bill C-11.  The answer was basically “I don’t know”.

Little did we know how small of an issue that ended up being given how big of a trainwreck this bill ended up being.

We, of course, examined current cancon rules and found that Freezenet would not qualify under those cancon rules.  The Canadian Broadcasters Association denied that digital first creators are affected by this bill, but Section 4.2 disagreed with that assessment.

Shortly after, Liberal MP, Chris Bittle, launched personal attacks on Darcy Michael over Twitter for the crime of questioning Bill C-11.  University law professor, Michael Geist, answered Bittle’s questions about the legislation.  This infuriated the MP who began openly attacking Geist over Twitter on top of it all.

In April, the Heritage Ministry Twitter account posted false and misleading statements on Bill C-11.  Those statements were quickly fact checked and parodied afterwards.  They would later double down by posting cartoons with similarly misleading statements as well.  An effort, again, that was responded to with fact checking and parody.  The CRTC Chair also made misleading statements, suggesting that Bill C-11 would somehow save musician’s.  The claims led to SOCAN data that many had already flagged over credibility issues.

In May, YouTube came out and stated the obvious: the legislation regulates user generated content.

Liberal MPs, sensing that the situation is going further off the rails, decided to launch conspiracy theories, saying that anyone who opposed Bill C-11 is simply pushing a massive disinformation campaign – a charge that never held water.

CRTC Chair, Ian Scott, continued to side with the Liberal party and added to the claims that Bill C-11 doesn’t regulate user generated content.  This was quickly followed up by Scott admitting that Bill C-11 does regulate user generated content.  The admission basically ended the questions over whether or not the bill regulated user generated content.

In response, Liberals panicked and began pushing the legislation forward as quickly as possible with as little debate as possible.  Despite that, digital first creators were having their voices heard anyway.

In June, more people were stepping forward to raise questions about the bill.  This paved the way to an astonishing moment where Music Canada, Canada’s RIAA, was siding with digital rights advocates and coming out against the legislation.  The situation was so crazy, hell was basically freezing over.  I’ve never seen Music Canada so pro-internet in my entire life up to that point.  CRTC Chair Scott also re-confirmed that user generated content is in the bill.

In the midst of all of this, Bell Canada called for changes to Bill C-11 so they can more cheaply rebroadcast American programming.  For those confused by that, don’t worry, the call made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Canadian digital first creator, J.J. McCullough, also testified before the House of Commons hearing.  He tried to reiterate the concerns about Bill C-11, but eventually concluded that the hearing process was “disillusioning”.

At this point, the Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal started blowing up in the news.  This potentially means more delays in the legislation.  So, in response, Liberal MPs called the sexual assault scandal “Conservative filibuster” – a charge that brought widespread condemnation for reasons that should be obvious.  The media also tried to play the deflection game by falsely accusing TikTok of running a secret campaign against Bill C-11 – again, an effort that drew condemnation and, ultimately, damaged the media’s credibility in the process for, again, reasons that should be obvious.

With things going further off the rails, the Liberals shut down debate and rushed through 150 amendments in a bid to pass the legislation before the Summer break.  A move that would ultimately backfire spectacularly as even supporters of the legislation would criticize some of the amendments that were passed at the 11th hour – concerns that were later raised during Senate hearings.  Either way, the law was briefly made secret only to eventually be made public largely unchanged.  In the process of trying to pass the legislation, another Liberal MP accused digital first creators of spreading misinformation.

All of these highly questionable moves didn’t go unnoticed by the Canadian Senate.  They signalled that they have every intention of thoroughly reviewing the bill rather than acting as a rubber stamp – doesn’t that sound familiar for those watching the Bill C-18 debates?

June ended with CRTC Chair Scott confirming that Bill C-11 allows them to demand outcomes of platform algorithms.  That caused another major talking point to go down in flames that said that Bill C-11 doesn’t affect algorithms.

Moving into July, the government got Bill C-11 passed in the House of Commons in a secret rushed process.  MPs at that level were pressuring Senators to pass the bill before the Summer break.  While the Liberals successfully coerced the Senate to move the bill forward a few steps, the governments wish to crack down on the Internet over the Summer never came to be.  The Senate moved the bill into committee before going on the Summer break.  The critical moment was marked with huge relief for those who support digital rights and freedom of expression.

Another talking point by the Liberals (and the NDP for that matter) was that Bill C-11 would generate $1 billion in additional revenue.  The figure was seemingly pulled out of thin air.  When questioned about where they got the statistic, the government admitted that the figure was “illustrative”, putting further doubt that the money was actually real.  Eventually, the Liberals would flat out deny that they even made those comments despite it being on the record.

While there were still plenty of denials that the CRTC regulated content, a CRTC decision was then rendered  that proved supporters wrong on that point.  The CRTC issued their now infamous CBC N-Word ruling, saying that they are bound by the Broadcasting Act and not the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Supporters of the bill suddenly found themselves second-guessing their position in response to this huge ruling.  The CBC, for their part, was not impressed and vowed to fight the decision in the courts.  While it seems like an unrelated story, the implications in the Bill C-11 debate were huge.  It basically provided the perfect counter-argument that the CRTC does, in fact, regulate content.

Another bombshell development happened in the same month.  The US expressed serious concerns about Bill C-11, further raising the very real prospect that trade sanctions might be on the way against Canada in response to Bill C-11.  So, even American officials were noticing how rotten this bill truly was.

In September, I began posting vlog posts about the situation.  I was getting to the point of worry that there would be no way I could continue my push to expand my audience on platforms like YouTube should this bill pass as-is.  So, I did something I almost never do, push a project forward and just shooting from the hip by publishing my own vlog postings.  The thinking, of course, is that I might as well find out how successful such video’s could be before the government comes in and puts a stop to it all.  The situation seemed to be that desperate at that point.  The Summer break was coming to an end and the writing seemed to be on the wall.

The Canadian Senate jumped the gun and began hearings even before the official first Senate sitting day.  That would be a reason why I felt the situation was grim by that point.  While digital creators were in the process of having collective heart attacks over the bill – myself included – Senator Paula Simons expressed concerns about the bill ahead of the hearings.

It would also be the month that the Bill C-11 Senate hearings started taking place.  I won’t go into the details as there are just WAY too many details to go through for a brief summary. Still, it felt like I was entering the final moments of my whole video producing career, so I was following every detail and posting insanely detailed summaries of what was said.  What’s more, the podcasts starting from September all the way up until now features numerous clips for you to listen to.  It bordered on prime time television levels of interesting.  By no means was what I was highlighting boring.

What I will briefly talk about is the events surrounding the hearings as well as updates about the bill.  In October, notorious Liberal MP, Chris Bittle, found himself mired in yet another major political scandal.  He apparently leaked information to the press in an apparent attempt to intimidate Scott Benzie and Digital First Canada.  The leak tried to allege wrongdoings with the organization, though no allegations were ever substantiated.  The shocking revelations left multiple Senators shocked and disgusted by Bittle’s actions.  It was widely concluded that it was all part of a massive witness intimidation effort that ultimately backfired.

Moving on to November, part of the hearings involved the Canada Media Fund.  They made all sorts of claims about how they are running around trying to find digital first creators to fund.  They even went so far as to claim that they contacted YouTube and TikTok and asked how they could fund digital first creators.  The claims were highly suspicious to me, so I sent a message.  Skipping the middlemen, I asked if I should consider applying for their experimental revenue stream fund.  The result was entirely not surprising.  The governmental organization ghosted me immediately.  So, yeah, so much for them seeking out digital first creators.  At least I showed what happened when you come asking, sparing you disappointment when the inevitable occurs.

Then, of course, there was this month.  with the hearings wrapped up, Senators went into clause-by-clause review.  Two huge developments came out of that.

First, of course, was the unexpected and out of nowhere inclusion of age verification.  That made the legislation even more unconstitutional than it already was.

Second, Section 4.2 was re-written seemingly in a way to not include user generated content.  That change was met with near universal acclaim.  Senator Dennis Dawson was livid over this critical fix and accused it of being a “loophole” for big tech.  A nonsensical response to be sure, but this opens up the very real possibility of a potential showdown between the Senate and House of Commons.  After all, the two parts of government would have to eventually agree with a single version of the bill.  So this showed signs of a possibile friction point.  The situation went from hopeless to a scenario where a lot was suddenly in the air.  It marked the first time I have the slimmest amount of hope that things aren’t going to be a total disaster because of this bill.

Also worth pointing out was the US government re-iterating their concerns about both Bill C-11 and Bill C-18, giving Canada a fresh reminder of the potential trade consequences of the two bills.

So, a story that ended on a question mark this year.  Would the government finally accept a fix to the user generated content provision or would they fight against it tooth and nail like they have over the last two years?  I guess we will find out in 2023!

There’s no two ways about it.  This has been an absolutely bonkers year.  Looking back at it all, it’s a wonder I was able to keep up with it all in the first place.  Well, I’m still here.  I don’t know what insanity is in store for me in 2023, but I do know that 2022 was absolutely wild from beginning to end.  I can only hope that 2023 will feature some mild return to sanity, but there are some stories that threaten to make next year be anything but.  Still, here’s to a better 2023.  Can’t blame someone for hoping, right?


Before we close out this year’s final episode, I got one quick announcement to make. This month, I released a very belated November Wiki content patch.  With the absolute insanity of covering the hearings to the degree I was covering them as well as a late podcast last month, it took a while to complete a basic patch.  The added effect was that more episodes became available that needed documenting, so it took slightly longer than expected to complete as well.  Nevertheless, I got the patch completed.  All the latest episodes for the shows Group Therapy, Future Sound of Egypt, Fables, Resonation, the V Recordings Podcast, and Synth City have all been archived.  No new episode for the Random Movement Podcast, so the archive for that show remains updated as-is.

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 December, 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, Tumblr, and Mastodon.  Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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