Critics of Canada’s Liberal government are accusing it of mounting an ‘assault’ on free speech after it proposed modifications to a broadcasting law that would enable it to regulate user-generated video content on social media.
At the heart of the controversy is ‘Bill C-10’, an amendment to the Canadian Broadcasting Act (1991) that purports to give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) oversight abilities over online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.
When the Trudeau government introduced the bill, it contained language exempting content created by individuals. But that clause was removed by a parliamentary committee during the bill’s final review stages on Friday, creating an avenue for the CRTC to treat YouTube videos and TikTok posts uploaded by Canadian users as ‘programs’ – the same way it does broadcast networks.
The move “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy,” according to former CRTC commissioner Peter Menzies.
“It’s difficult to contemplate the levels of moral hubris, incompetence or both that would lead people to believe such an infringement of rights is justifiable,” Menzies told the National Post newspaper.