Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Bill C-10 Doesn’t Rein in Web Giants, It Doubles Down on Them

Matthew Hatfield, the Star:

Although Bill C-10 was tabled back in the fall, it only stoked widespread public controversy a few weeks ago when the government astonished observers by removing a crucial exemption for user-generated audiovisual content. This means all of the pictures, video and audio we upload to internet platforms would now be subject to regulation by the CRTC.

Note for my American readers: in most English-speaking places, “tabled” means to propose for discussion, not to delay it.

The government is now backtracking with further amendments to the bill, narrowing the CRTC’s jurisdiction over our user-generated content to only treating it like broadcasting if we’re lucky enough our content’s popular and focusing on “discoverability” — hiding content our feeds would otherwise display to showcase CRTC-defined “Canadian” content.

But the core problem with Bill C-10 hasn’t changed: user audiovisual speech on platforms remains subject to CRTC regulation, a huge leap in government authority over an increasingly central area of our online expression.

None of this takes on web giants, as Guilbeault claims. It’s simply giving the government, CRTC, and big tech even more power over what we can do and see online. And such strict regulations and requirements ensure only the largest platforms can afford to comply — guaranteeing their continued dominance.

Hatfield is not some blanket anti-regulation libertarian advocate. The organization he works for, OpenMedia, works to support regulations that incentivize a privacy-friendly and open web. But Bill C-10 is bad news and desperately needs to be scrapped — or, as my American readers may refer to it, “tabled”.