Over 104,000 Canadians support critical Bill C-11 amendments
But will the House of Commons recognize their demand?
December 13, 2022 — Today OpenMedia delivered the signatures of over 104,000 people in Canada to the Senate who wish to see user content respecting amendments to Bill C-11. Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, has received numerous amendments at the Senate’s Transport and Communications Committee, including an amendment by Senators Simons and Miville-Deschêne that protects user-uploaded content by restricting the Bill to professional sound content. Bill C-11 will soon receive third reading in the Senate, then be passed back to the House, where MPs will decide whether to accept any or all of the Senate’s amendments.
“Excluding our content from Bill C-11 is a huge win for ordinary Internet users,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Over 104,000 people in Canada have called for this change, and they’ve been heard. The Senate’s amendment removes the vast majority of our content from the CRTC’s control, while capturing professional content that supporters of Bill C-11 were concerned about. We’re very happy with this amendment, and are calling on MPs of all parties to accept it and see it passed in the House.”
“Unfortunately, not all is well in the Senate’s cut of Bill C-11,” continued Hatfield. “A nasty last-minute surprise was the introduction of a requirement to prove our ages to access any online platform hosting any adult content. The privacy and freedom of expression consequences for millions of Canadians could be enormous, yet the Senate did not hear from a single expert witness on this proposal. We are calling on both the Senate and House to strike this amendment and consider how to protect children online through a full and separate legislative process.”
The Senate also failed to address the broad scope granted to the CRTC to regulate how algorithms serve online feeds and search results, in the name of improving the ‘discoverability’ of officially designated ‘Canadian’ content. During testimony on C-11, OpenMedia had this to say: “We would never tolerate the government setting rules specifying which books must be placed in the front window of our bookstores, or what kind of stories must appear on the front page of our newspapers. But that’s exactly what Bill C-11 does … Canadians enjoy cultural content with roots all over the world. We are active participants in crafting the feeds we want. Our community members have told us loud and clear: They do not want their feeds overwritten by content the government chooses for them.”
In the version of Bill C-11 originally passed by the House, Section 4.1 excludes user posts from CRTC regulation. However, an extremely broad set of exceptions in Section 4.2(2) meant that the vast majority of user content could still be regulated in this version of the Bill, including much content on popular platforms like Youtube, Spotify, and Tik Tok.
Since December 2020, OpenMedia community members have sent over 200,000 messages to MPs, Senators and the Department of Canadian Heritage calling for major changes to Bill C-11, and its predecessor Bill C-10, to better protect Internet user content and choice. A new action from OpenMedia is calling on MPs to support the Miville-Deschêne/Simons content amendment, while striking the age verification requirement.