Canada Free Expression

Bill C-11 passes without user protections

No safeguards against regulation of user content and choices

APRIL 27, 2023 — Today the Senate passed Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. The bill was passed to the Senate by the House of Commons in March, rejecting a crucial amendment to protect Canadian Internet users. Despite strong opposition from over 100,000 Canadians, Bill C-11 was passed without user protections or changes to discoverability mechanisms. The bill remains largely unchanged from the original version proposed in February 2022. 

“Today the Senate backed down and passed a version of Bill C-11 as bad for Canadians as it was a year ago,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “User audiovisual content — the TikToks and podcasts you upload — can now be regulated as broadcasting by the CRTC under C-11. And the CRTC can overrule your feeds and search results to show you content they consider officially “Canadian”. We’re tremendously disappointed. Plainly excluding user content would have been a no-brainer: it would’ve achieved the bill's core aim, while protecting Canadians from the CRTC’s regulatory control. But make no mistake: the fight isn’t over yet. While legal protection of our content was the best option, Heritage Minister Rodriguez can still issue a clear policy direction to the CRTC that tells them our user content should not be regulated in practice, and our choices must be respected. That’s where the fight will go next.” 

Section 4.1 of Bill C-11 nominally excludes user posts from CRTC regulation, which has led some government officials to incorrectly claim user content is protected. An extremely broad set of exceptions in 4.2(2) re-include user content that earns revenue, has a unique ID number, or appears on broadcast services. In practice, this covers the vast majority of user content on platforms, meaning user uploaded content on popular platforms like Youtube, Spotify, and TikTok may be regulated. 

Since December 2020, OpenMedia community members have sent over 200,000 messages to our MPs, Senators, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, calling on them to protect user content and respect our online choices in Bill C-11 and its 2020 predecessor, Bill C-10. OpenMedia will shortly launch a new campaign demanding that the Heritage Minister’s policy direction respects user content and choice.

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet. Take action now

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