Internet Users Outraged as Senate Passes Controversial Streaming Act

Crtc twitter tabletSummary:

  • Senate passed Bill C-11, enabling CRTC to regulate user content and promote “officially Canadian” content.
  • Exceptions in 4.2(2) may lead to regulation of user-uploaded content on YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok.
  • OpenMedia urges Heritage Minister to prevent user content regulation and respect users’ choices.

The Senate has passed Bill C-11, known as the Online Streaming Act, despite strong opposition from over 100,000 Canadians and rejection of a crucial amendment to protect Canadian Internet users.

The bill, which was passed to the Senate by the House of Commons in March, remains largely unchanged from its original proposal in February 2022.

“Today the Senate backed down and passed a version of Bill C-11 as bad for Canadians as it was a year ago,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. He further explained that user audiovisual content, such as TikToks and podcasts, can now be regulated as broadcasting by the CRTC under C-11. The CRTC can also override users’ feeds and search results to display content deemed “officially Canadian.”

Although Section 4.1 of Bill C-11 nominally excludes user posts from CRTC regulation, a broad set of exceptions in 4.2(2) essentially re-includes user content that earns revenue, has a unique ID number, or appears on broadcast services. This means that user-uploaded content on popular platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok may be regulated.

Hatfield emphasized that the fight is not over and urged Heritage Minister Rodriguez to issue a clear policy direction to the CRTC to prevent the regulation of user content in practice and respect users’ choices.

While OpenMedia blasted the decision, Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, just issued the following statement: “Today, we are standing up for our stories, our artists, our producers and our creators. We’re standing up so that Canadians have even more opportunities to see themselves in what they watch and listen to.”

“With this legislation, we are ensuring that Canada’s incredible talent has a bigger and brighter stage online. They tell our stories, they make our voices heard, they contribute to our economy, and they make our culture what it is: strong, diverse and unique. Today, we stand up because our stories matter and our artists who tell them matter,” proclaimed Rodriguez.

CRTC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Vicky Eatrides, also just released statements in response to the passing of the Online Streaming Act.

“The CRTC can now begin building the broadcasting system of the future,” touted Eatrides. “The CRTC will establish a modernized regulatory framework where all players contribute equitably. The broadcasting system will ensure that online streaming services make meaningful contributions to Canadian and Indigenous content.”

“Creators will have opportunities to tell their stories and Canadians will have access to a greater variety and diversity of content. The CRTC has no intention to regulate creators of user-generated content and their content,” said Eatrides, attempting to reassure Canadian creators.

The CRTC will share its “detailed plan” and launch its first public consultations “shortly”, said Eatrides. “We will adapt our approach in light of any future policy direction. Together, we will build the best possible framework for broadcasting in the 21st century,” she concluded.

Since December 2020, OpenMedia community members have sent over 200,000 messages to MPs, Senators, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, calling for the protection of user content and respect for online choices in Bill C-11 and its predecessor, Bill C-10. OpenMedia plans to launch a new campaign demanding that the Heritage Minister’s policy direction respects user content and choice.