Open Media Speaks Out Against Bill C-11 at the Standing Committee

Digital rights organization, Open Media, appeared before the standing committee to speak out against Bill C-11.

Recently, we reported on how content creators speaking out at the standing committee. While the situation may be hopeless politically to talk sense into these lawmakers, it is critically important for creators to at least speak their mind about these issues. After all, they are basically on the front lines for when the regulatory shoe drops in the first place.

Of course, content creators aren’t the only ones speaking out against Bill C-11. Digital rights organization, Open Media, delivered their message to the standing committee warning them of the dangers of Bill C-11. In a subsequent posting, the organization thanked supporters, saying that this moment couldn’t have happened without ordinary citizens:

On May 24, 2022, OpenMedia testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on the potential impact of Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. Our key message was simple: treating the Internet as it if were broadcasting is a serious mistake. The Internet is a space for user choice and expression, and legislation must respect that role, not limit it. You can watch our full testimony on our Youtube channel here.

Before the Heritage Committee, we spoke about the issues that most impact YOU. We reminded the committee that respecting user choice should be the government’s highest priority. Canadians deserve to freely view the content they want, follow the influencers they like, and post and share the content we make.

In our testimony, we highlighted the enormity of the new power the CRTC is being given in regulating our user audiovisual content online. We asked for user-generated content to be clearly, plainly, and EXPLICITLY removed from Bill C-11, so that everyday users don’t live in fear of having their content regulated. And we asked MPs to amend the bill so that in a bid to make officially recognized Canadian Content – “CanCon” – more prominent, the CRTC not be given the power to edit our feeds and search results to show less of the content we’re actually looking for. We emphasized that any attempt to promote CanCon must come from an opt-in system where users can choose to see more CanCon when we want to, or have our regular search results when we don’t. You can read more about these and other issues we’ve flagged about Bill C-11 here.

All of this couldn’t be done without you. With your support, our community has sent over 76,000 messages to the government on both Bill C-11, and its predecessor, Bill C-10. Your hard work and commitment to keeping the Internet open and protecting freedom of expression shaped our testimony and will be an influence in the Heritage Committees’ analysis and recommendations to the House of Commons on what to do with Bill C-11 moving forward.

The posting also points to a YouTube video which shows the organizations appearance at the standing committee:

The comments include how it is a mistake to think that the Internet is just another broadcast TV channel (points we raised previously), that Bill C-11 covers user generated content (something we also previously covered), and how government officials were not truthful when they said that Bill C-11 doesn’t cover user generated content (something we covered), and how the CRTC finally admitted that, yes, they can regulate user generated content under Bill C-11 (something we also covered). Watching the video and reading the comments after felt like a rundown of everything we covered about the legislation which, of course, made us smile knowing how it’s confirmation that everyone is basically on the same page as us.

The problem in all of this is the fact that the government has hit the panic button over how sideways the debate went on them. In response to having all of their talking points nuked from orbit, they chose to silence debate on this legislation. This is an effort to try and rush the legislation through now that the lies were fully exposed. This as opposed to admitting they screwed up and being open to fixing the bill. Those actions basically represent an admission that the government knows that they wanted to regulate speech on the Internet and it was their intention from the very beginning.

Because of this, it makes convincing law makers to back off from the brink a less likely prospect. Of course, as we said all along, it’s better that this pushback happen then not at all. After all, not saying anything means that everyone is satisfied with the governments current approach (which most assuredly is not the case). So, everyone on the opposition side are making all of the right moves here. So, despite this being a very hopeless situation, everything is being done to try and correct the course of the government. We all hope that the government sees the errors of their ways, but sadly, the most likely rout is that they learn that when this makes its way into the court system after.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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