Canada Free Expression

MPs remove user protection amendment from Bill C-11

Bill C-11 will now regulate much more Internet user content

March 30, 2023 — Today the House of Commons passed several amendments to Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, but rejected a crucial amendment proposed to Section 4.2 of Bill C-11 to protect Canadian Internet users. Amendment 3 of the Senate’s revised version of C-11 had significantly narrowed the bill's definition of regulated content, greatly reducing the risk of ordinary Canadian user-uploaded content being regulated by the CRTC as ‘broadcasting’. Despite strong petition support from over 100,000 Canadians for passing this amendment, MPs rejected these changes to Section 4.2. 

“Today, our leaders had a chance to make crucial fixes to an out-of-control bill, and they refused to do it,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Plainly excluding user content was a slam dunk: it would’ve achieved the bill's core aim on commercial content and provided considerable support for Canadian artists, while keeping everything else clearly outside of the CRTC’s regulatory control. Without this amendment, we’re relying on the good behaviour of the CRTC and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to leave our content alone – today, and under every future Minister and Commissioner. Even a good policy direction from Minister Rodriguez that puts on a few guardrails will not fix that; it just pushes the risk down the road. As C-11 goes back to the Senate, we’re calling on Senators to stick to their guns, reject the House’s decision, and make sure the freedom of our content exists in law, not by the Minister’s choice.”

The key amendment in question was proposed by Senator Simons and Senator Miville-Dechêne, and aimed to protect user-generated content from being regulated under the Act by restricting the Bill to apply to professional, commercial audio content. This would have ensured that ordinary Canadian users who upload content to platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok would not have their content treated as CRTC-regulated broadcasting under the Act.

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

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 Senate reject the House's decision. 

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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