Bill C-10 poses no free speech issue despite impact of social media, Justice Minister says – National
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to a section of Bill C-10 as 2.1. The correct section is 4.1.
Bill C-10’s amendments regulating social media websites that Canadians use do not pose any Charter-related freedom of expression concerns, Canadian Justice Minister David Lametti said during second review of the bill’s charter.
The conclusion was released Thursday after a second charter statement was made on the bill. Opposition MPs had called for the new charter statement after several experts warned that the latest version of the bill could allow the government to regulate anything you post on social media.
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Since the charter’s first review, the Liberals have removed a section of the bill that protected user-generated content and exempted it from regulation, meaning your Facebook and Instagram posts would not have been submitted. to CRTC rules.
Overall, the bill seeks to modernize the Broadcasting Act to reflect the fact that Canadians these days consume things like music and movies differently – often by using streaming services or media. social.
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Section 4.1 initially exempted all social media platforms from CRTC regulation, even though they represent a significant portion of Canadian spending habits today. That was the idea behind the Liberals’ decision to remove the section from the bill – but that decision also opened the door for the CRTC to regulate user-generated content, like your YouTube videos.
And while it will be up to the CRTC to draft exactly what those regulations might look like, experts have warned that it could allow the CRTC to regulate whatever it wants on social media.
“Social media companies (would) be legally responsible for all these videos that users post as if they were somehow broadcasting programs,” said Emily Laidlaw, Canada Research Chair in Cyber Security Law at the University of Calgary, in an interview with Global News in early May.
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A former CRTC vice-chair echoed her concerns shortly after section 4.1 was removed from the bill.
“It’s your Facebook post. This is your tweet. These are your cat videos. These are your pictures of your kids and grandchildren and that sort of thing, ”said Peter Menzies, who is also a former newspaper editor.
“What this means is that someone will monitor this, either from the government or from a government regulator, and can order it to be removed if they find it is not meeting their objectives.”
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To allay concerns, the government amended the bill to narrow down the areas of social media that the CRTC would be empowered to regulate.
The changes left the CRTC with only three areas of regulation:
- The CRTC will be able to ask a platform how much revenue it makes.
- The CRTC may request that a certain percentage of these revenues be channeled into Canadian cultural production funds.
- Finally, it will be empowered to provide discoverability requirements for Canadian creators – meaning the CRTC can write certain rules, such as forcing a certain amount of content from Arkells, Celine Dion, or other Canadian artists to appear in your videos. recommended.
The charter statement cited these changes in its conclusions.
“The government has proposed changes to Bill C-10 that would limit the ability of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to regulate an online company that provides a social media service with respect to posted programming by its 2 unaffiliated users, ”Read the new charter statement.
“In this regard, the regulatory powers of the Commission would be limited to only the following separate matters, and those requirements could only be imposed on the social media service, and not on its unaffiliated users.”
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The charter statement added that the CRTC’s new powers “would not include programming standards (for example, prohibited programming content) or the proportion of programming that must be Canadian.”
The CRTC will also have to ensure that the right balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
“In making regulatory decisions, the Commission must proportionately balance the objectives of the Act with the protection of freedom of expression in light of the facts and circumstances,” the statement read.
“Decisions of the Commission on questions of law or jurisdiction are subject to review by the Federal Court of Appeal.”
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