MPs Reject Key Amendment to Protect User Content in Bill C-11

bill c-11 update openmedia

Consumer advocate and non-profit organization OpenMedia reported late Thursday that the House of Commons had passed several amendments to Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act.

However, Members of Parliament (MPs) rejected a crucial amendment that would have protected Canadian Internet users.

Amendment 3, proposed for Section 4.2 of Bill C-11, aimed to narrow the bill’s definition of regulated content, substantially reducing the risk of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulating ordinary user-uploaded content as ‘broadcasting’.

Despite a petition with over 100,000 Canadian supporters, MPs dismissed the changes to Section 4.2.

“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, in a statement on Thursday evening.

“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,” said Hatfield.

“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,” added OpenMedia.

The rejected amendment, proposed by Senators Simons and Miville-Dechêne, sought to protect user-generated content from regulation under the Act by limiting its application to professional, commercial audio content.

This would have ensured that ordinary Canadian users uploading content to platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok would not have their content treated as CRTC-regulated broadcasting under the Act.

Although Section 4.1 of Bill C-11 seemingly excludes user posts from CRTC regulation, an extensive set of exceptions in 4.2(2) potentially re-includes content that earns revenue, has a unique ID number, or appears on broadcast services.

Consequently, a vast majority of user content on popular platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok may now be subject to regulation. That doesn’t sound like something Canadians would want to be subjected to.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre argued against Bill C-11 yesterday in the House of Commons, specifically calling out the lack of protections against user-generated content, while calling out telcos Rogers and Bell as potential supporters of the bill:

YouTube video

Debate over Bill C-11 also took place earlier in the day, check it out below:

YouTube video

OpenMedia has been advocating for user content protection since December 2020, with community members sending over 200,000 messages to MPs, Senators, and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The organization has just launched a new campaign urging the Senate to reject the House’s decision, which offers Canadians one click to send a letter to the upper house of Parliament.

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