Back in 2015, the Government of Quebec introduced some rules which created a list of unlicensed gambling sites that ISPs must block or face financial penalties.
Today, the Quebec Superior Court has ruled those provincial rules unconstitutional, highlighting that the blocking system was primarily aimed at increasing revenues of Loto-Quebec, a provincially licensed online gambling site (via Michael Geist).
“The Tribunal has no hesitation in concluding that both the object and the effects of the Provincial Provision are, despite the social law in which the provincial legislature chose to insert it; a provision that operates directly in two areas of exclusive federal jurisdiction: telecommunications and the criminal law. The legal and practical effects of the Provincial Disposition are to govern gambling online through ISPs, which neither provincial jurisdiction authorizes.”
Although the Quebec government can still appeal the latest ruling, its proposal was always on the shaky legal ground. The decision also includes a notable discussion on the CRTC’s net neutrality rules with implications for one of the arguments arising from the Bell website blocking coalition plan.
The Quebec government argued that Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act permits an ISP to block illegal content. The court disagreed, citing the net neutrality rules and emphasizing that interfering with signals is limited to network threats.