Canada Access Free Expression Privacy

Throne speech doubles down on botched approach to tackling Big Tech

Government signals it will neglect its duty to address core Internet affordability and privacy reform issues.

NOVEMBER 23, 2021 — Today, Governor General Mary Simon delivered the government’s throne speech, including plans for regulation of online harms and returning to Bill C-10’s unpopular reforms of the Broadcasting Act. The government’s proposed direction misses the mark on meaningfully reining in tech giants, and fails to acknowledge what Canada needs most: to address our sky-high Internet and wireless prices and our need for federal privacy reform.

“Today’s throne speech was a failure of courage, plain and simple,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “‘Taking on Big Tech companies, as the government has repeatedly promised, starts with privacy law reform that limits their ability to surveil us and monetize our data. It should be paired with a real plan to lower our Internet costs, which are consistently amongst the highest in the world. Canadians desperately need a comprehensive plan detailing how our government will protect our personal information online, and ensure we can all access affordable connectivity. We didn’t get that today.” 

Today’s speech outlined plans to reintroduce the unpopular reforms to the Broadcasting Act first introduced in the spring under Bill C-10. It also suggested the government is committed to moving forward with its sharply criticized harmful online content proposal, which many believe will lead to mass removal of lawful online content. C-10 also introduces the threat of heightened online surveillance of ordinary people in Canada by law enforcement. There was no mention of privacy reform, wireless affordability, or increased competition in the Canadian telecom market. 

“Instead of taking on the ways Big Tech companies abuse their users on a daily basis, our government is doubling down on wildly unpopular plans that could make our Internet amongst the most censored and surveilled in the democratic world,” said Hatfield. “Despite the dangerous overreaching of the harmful content moderation proposal, the government is ignoring the mass privacy violations and abuse of user data that are at the core of Big Tech’s power. The government needs to stop pursuing their worst ideas for regulating Canada’s Internet, and stop and listen to the public about the policies we do want.”

Over 38,000 individual members of OpenMedia’s community have called on the government to reject the Broadcasting reforms Bill C-10. A currently open OpenMedia campaign is calling for new Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez to not reintroduce the bill.

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