Wireless Carriers Challenge Quebec’s Internet Blocking Bill in Court

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association is asking the court to declare sections of the Quebec government’s Bill 74 unconstitutional.


Specifically, the CWTA is eyeing the sections that give Loto-Québec the power to compose a list of websites it wants Internet service providers to block, as reported by the Financial Post.

The CWTA has filed a motion on behalf of its members — Vidéotron, Rogers Communications Inc., Bell and Telus Corp — with the Quebec Superior Court against the aforementioned bill, arguing that the federal Telecommunications Act states “a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.” This is unless the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approves otherwise, of course.

“As we had previously expressed to the Quebec government, the provisions in the Act would put ISPs and wireless service providers in conflict with Section 36 of the federal Telecommunications Act which governs ALL telecommunications in Canada,” CWTA Vice-President Marc Choma, said in a statement. “As well, we have always maintained, and as has been confirmed by the courts in previous instances, telecommunications is the sole jurisdiction of the federal government and must remain so.”

The CWTA expressed its belief that this law would require expensive new infrastructure since most Canadians Internet service providers lack provincial blocking capabilities, and warned that such costs would end up being paid by consumers nationally.

Alongside the CWTA, legal experts and activists say the law threatens net neutrality and freedom of expression.

It wasn’t just the CWTA: this month PIAC — the Public Interest Advocacy Centre — filed an application with the CRTC objecting the law, using a similar argument. The rising cost of the infrastructure required for applying the law would mean higher prices for the customers.