Google Speaks Out Against Bill C-10: Points to Impact on Canadian Creators

Google has joined the chorus of entities speaking out against Bill C-10. They’re concerned over the legislation’s impact on Canadian creators.

The people who oppose Bill C-10 is continuing to expand. Already, experts and digital rights organizations have signed an open letter condemning the legislation. Creators have also been increasingly speaking out against the legislation. Now, another powerful entity has joined the large chorus of Bill C-10 opponents: Google.

In opposing the legislation, Google has quite the tightrope to walk. Indeed, the company has a monetary motivation to oppose the legislation for reasons other than what’s in the creators interest. After all, the Canadian government is expressing interest in hijacking key algorithms and changing them to whatever whim they feel is right. That could significantly hamper how Google can continue to operate.

Still, saying nothing would also leave Canadian creators to hang to dry in their own country. So, saying nothing isn’t exactly a wise decision either. By saying nothing, then that runs the risk of opportunistic supporters of the legislation to say that concerns are just misinformation and the silence from big tech proves it among other angles.

So, that leads to one critical point: timing. It probably wouldn’t have been a good move to jump out early given that supporters of the legislation kept trying to push the messaging that the legislation is supposedly about making web giants “pay”. The early opposition might have helped prove the point in the eyes of the supporters. Ultimately, Google chose to wait it out and let Canadian’s voice their concerns instead. Obviously, Canadians have spoken out loudly and clearly why they oppose the legislation.

By choosing now to speak out, Google shows that they are more interested in backing Canadian creators who have helped make them such a success in the first place. If Canadian’s are speaking out, Google will back them and allow Canadians to take the lead.

The next big thing is the messaging. Google ultimately chose to show how they have supported Canadian creators through the multitude of services they offer. They then hone in on the crux of the matter: Canadian voices potentially getting silenced for not being “Canadian” enough. From Google:

Today, Canadians know what they search for on YouTube will be the most relevant, helpful content to them. If someone is searching for Canadian content, we will show them Canadian content. And we’ll continue to do so especially if that person likes or engages with that content. But if a student is researching American history or someone is looking for the best way to fix a flat tire, we want to make sure they have access to the most relevant content for their needs. If Bill-C10 rules were to go into effect as currently written, people would be seeing suggestions not based on their personal preferences or even what is most relevant, but what the government decides is “Canadian.” The rules around what is considered Canadian content are complex and it is very difficult to qualify. This stands to impact all creators but we are especially concerned about the impact on new and emerging creators as they will be up against players who have been following these rules for decades.

We know that Canadians punch above their weight on YouTube and their content is wildly successful everywhere. So, what happens when other countries follow suit, favouring their own local voices? This could mean our creators and stories get less reach around the world, impacting the businesses and livelihoods of thousands of entrepreneurial Canadians.

Modernizing broadcasting for the digital age is a worthwhile goal. It should not come at the expense of Canadian creators or the millions of Canadians that use platforms like ours. YouTube is the place for Canadian creativity without compromise. Let’s keep it that way.

Canadians are no doubt welcoming this latest move. It lends further credibility (not that it was really needed at this point, but few are going to disagree with this) to the fact that Bill C-10 could negatively impact Canadian creators. The post also raises a very valid point. If Canada starts demanding that Canadian’s be given priority for discoverability, what will happen when other countries start demanding the same thing? It ultimately leads to bubbles that divides audiences up. That is not good news for Canadians who don’t exactly have a huge population compared to some other countries. Canadian audiences might find out about your content more easily, but viewers from all over the world might start shrinking as well. That easily negatively impacts creators as Google points out in great detail.

That goes over top of the question more front and centre for Canadians: what if the Canadian government determines that my content is not “Canadian” enough? Will that mean that my video’s start disappearing in search results despite being Canadian myself? Indeed, with the latest CRTC decision to allow prices for Internet and cell phone bills to skyrocket, the regulatory body has already shown that they don’t exactly have Canadian consumers top of mind these days. As others have pointed out, if the CRTC is making decisions like that, then what is going to happen if they start having the power to promote and demote content on various platforms? It’s a very ugly picture to say the least.

The thing is, with the Bloc already interested in throwing smaller Quebec voices under the bus in an effort to support this bill, it is looking increasingly less likely that there will be sufficient political will to stop this legislation within the halls of government. That means that, if the clock doesn’t run out, the fight will have to be taken to the courts to protect freedom of expression. So, with Google throwing some support behind the movement to stop this unconstitutional legislation, there is more hope that free speech will, for once, be backed by some pretty deep pockets.

(via Michael Geist)

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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