According to Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Michael Geist, the Liberal government is now planning on adding streaming apps to the scope of the proposed Bill C-10, bringing them under CRTC regulation.
The federal government proposed Bill C-10 last fall as an amendment to the Broadcasting Act that would push taxes and regulations on all streaming services on the internet, obligating them to contribute to Canadian content like traditional broadcasters.
However, the bill has slowly mutated into a rabid, anti-Internet proposal that is starting to look like it ultimately plans on giving the CRTC say over not only what Canadians can say on the internet, but also what they can do.
Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault previously said the following in the House of Commons:
Bear in mind that we are imposing a number of guardrails. As I said earlier, user-generated content, news content and video games would not be subject to the new regulations.
Yesterday, the Liberal government went in the exact opposite direction, announcing user-generated content on websites like Facebook, YouTube, and even podcasts would now fall under the scope of Bill C-10 and be governed by CRTC regulation.
Now, it seems that the government is taking things even further by trying to bring apps into the fold as well.
During a hearing yesterday, Liberal MP Marci Ien mistakenly spilled the beans while talking about a proposed motion that the government will presumably bring to the next meeting, noted Geist.
Ien said the following (emphasis ours):
Yes, a new clause, Mr. Chair, because we live in a new world and it is a digital one. This clause is adding apps. Right now, the CRTC can regulate conventional channels. This would make sure that apps are regulated as well. Things like Crave and other apps. This clause is also about discoverability and for more on that I’d like to go to the department for why that’s important.
Immediately after, Ien was corrected to say she was talking about the wrong amendment. Oops?
The yet-to-be-submitted motion is apparently designed to give the CRTC regulatory powers over any user-generated content on any app that may qualify as a program under the bill’s language, and also give the CRTC jurisdiction over the discoverability of apps within Canada.
With that, the Liberal government’s assurances of keeping social media, video games, and streaming apps safe from the reach of Bill C-10 may as well have been tossed out the window.