America’s northern neighbor is on the verge of signing into law a bill that would grant the Canadian government the unilateral power to control and regulate big tech streaming giants like Netflix and YouTube.
Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, would specifically grant the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission “unprecedented regulatory authority to monitor all online audiovisual content,” according to OpenMedia, a nonprofit.
“This power extends to penalizing content creators and platforms and through them, content creators that fail to comply,” OpenMedia reported back in September.
Imagine the government deciding what content appears on your streaming feeds. That’s essentially what would happen if this bill were to become law.
Senator David Adams Richard tears apart Bill C-11, warning against censorship and government dictating what counts as Canadian culture. Powerful speech from one of Canada’s most acclaimed authors, having won Governor General’s Award for fiction and non-fiction and Giller Prize. pic.twitter.com/9LH4boRW5a
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) January 31, 2023
“You’ll see less of the content you want most. According to the government, Bill C-11 will ‘increase visibility’ for some officially recognized Canadian content creators– but their tool for doing this is manipulating our playlists, feeds, and algorithmic recommendations,” OpenMedia notes.
“This means that the CRTC will be picking winners and losers, forcing some officially recognized content ‘up’ in feeds and recommendations, while downranking or hiding other content we’d otherwise receive,” the site continues.
The same thing is admittedly already happening in the states, albeit in an unofficial capacity, with streaming giants like YouTube voluntarily bestowing more “authority” to liberal establishment media outlets like CNN than to independent content creators.
Incidentally, the ones most likely to benefit from the Online Streaming Act are, not surprisingly, Canada’s own liberal media establishment outlets.
And indeed, OpenMedia argues this is probably the real reason behind the decision by Canadian liberals to pursue this controversial piece of legislation.
“The real motive of the Online Streaming Act is simple; streaming platforms and creators on them are bringing in more and more revenue, and legacy media wants a piece of the pie. Legacy broadcasting media companies like Bell Media, Rogers and Corus Entertainment, have built themselves a comfortable and oligopolistic domestic market in Canada during the broadcasting era and dominated the media landscape for many decades,” the site notes.
“But the old narrow system isn’t working anymore. Television broadcast revenue has been in decline since 2014; young people don’t use cable TV or listen to radio. Rather than building competing online services on terms that attract people, those legacy media giants want a cut of the profits from streaming services that are increasingly popular in the 21st-century media market.”
Why I’ll vote NO to Bill #C11:
We won’t achieve more Canadian success with Trudeau Govt “helicopter parenting” Cdn content producers online.
Give our artists + creators freedom to compete, achieve + excel without govt interference.
My #SenCA speech VIDEO:https://t.co/qEVVMJZRMd
— Sen. Denise Batters (@denisebatters) February 1, 2023
The Online Streaming Act would also force streaming giants to effectively discriminate against American companies in favor of Canadian ones.
The Online Streaming Act specifically mandates that streaming giants prioritize the “needs and interests” of Canadians over everybody else, including Americans, but also including other countries as well.
This fact has led to some vocal opposition from the Biden administration.
“The United States Embassy in Ottawa says it has concerns that the federal Liberals’ controversial online streaming act could discriminate against American companies,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported last month.
“In a statement to The Canadian Press, an embassy spokesperson said U.S. officials are holding consultations with businesses about how Bill C-11 could affect their operations,” the Canadian news outlet added.
Opposition to the bill is also mounting in Canada, where a number of prominent authors have also begun speaking out about it.
“Famed Canadian authors Margaret Atwood and David Adams Richards are among novelists warning against the Trudeau government’s online censorship Bill C-11 to amend the Broadcasting Act,” TNC News reported.
“That what George Orwell says we must resist is a prison of self-censorship. This bill goes a long way to construct such a prison,” Richards, who’s also a senator, said during a floor speech this week.
When the Online Streaming Act becomes law in a few months, section 9.1(1)(e) will give Trudeau the power to order Internet companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram to promote or hide whatever news sources he likes.
HELP US: https://t.co/MiSqptmdu0 pic.twitter.com/UYOwjQg2q3
— Rebel News (@RebelNewsOnline) January 2, 2023
Despite Richards’ complaints, the the Canadian Senate passed the Online Streaming Act this Thursday. Meanwhile, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez reportedly said he hopes the Canadian House passes the bill next week.
The only good news is that, before passing the bill, the Senate passed several amendments that may have weakened its power a tad.
For Example, the Senate “removed a clause in the bill that Sen. Paula Simons described as giving ‘extraordinary new powers to the government to make political decisions about things,'” according to The Canadian Press.
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