Google Urges Canadians to ‘Keep YouTube Yours’ in Fight Against Bill C-11

Google has joined forces with consumer advocacy group OpenMedia to oppose the Liberal government’s controversial Online Streaming Act, also known as Bill C-11.

The Liberals tabled Bill C-11 in February as an amendment to the Broadcasting Act. It is designed to give the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulatory authority over online streaming platforms, the end goal being requiring platforms to promote and invest in Canadian content like traditional broadcasters are required to do.

In its current form, however, critics argue the bill gives the CRTC sweeping authority over online content and how it is delivered to Canadians. There are even fears it could result in the regulation of user-generated content, which were sparked by CRTC chair Ian Scott admitting to as much.

Last month, executives from YouTube and TikTok warned a senate committee that Bill C-11 will harm Canadian content creators.

According to YouTube, Bill C-11 could require changes in streamers’ algorithms. In June, Scott confirmed that Bill C-11 would allow the regulator to influence content streaming companies’ algorithms.

This could affect what content is served to users at the top of their feeds and search results, as well as the discoverability of Canadian creators’ content. Platforms like YouTube could be forced to serve Canadian users content based on whether or not it is “Candian” enough instead of their preferences and interests.

“Your YouTube feed is unique,” Google said. “Bill C-11 could change that.”

“Bill C-11 is supposed to be about promoting Canadian storytelling online – but right now, the Bill is so broadly worded it lets the CRTC interfere with every part of your online life,” said OpenMedia, which is petitioning the senate to take a closer look at Bill C-11 and reconsider passing it as it is.

“First, the CRTC is being given breathtakingly broad authority to regulate almost ALL audiovisual content on online platforms as broadcasting content. Your Netflix and YouTube favourites, the TikToks you make, and the podcasts you listen to could all be regulated as ‘broadcasting,’ subject to CRTC broadcasting rules and requirements.”

Bill C-11 is currently making its way through the Senate after being passed by the House of Commons in June.

“And that’s not all,” added OpenMedia. “The CRTC will also be manipulating your feeds and search results. Your favourite content, and even your own uploads, could be systemically downranked in favour of content that the CRTC deems “Canadian enough,” according to their wildly outdated 1980s-era criteria.”

If you want to support Google and OpenMedia in opposing Bill C-11, you can sign the petition over at OpenMedia.org. At the time of writing, the petition already has 5,968 signatures (with a goal of 10,000).