YouTube has warned that Canada’s proposed internet regulation bill (Bill C-11) will allow the government to regulate user-generated content because the wording is so broad that it places user-generated content under the purview of regulation by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
“(Bill C-11) provides the CRTC the discretion to regulate user-generated content like a fan doing a cover song or someone making cooking videos in their kitchen or doing how-to-fix-a-bike videos,” said Jeanette Patell, the head of government affairs for YouTube Canada.
However, the government, specifically the Ministry of Heritage, insists that the CRTC will not regulate user-generated content, ignoring the fact that regulating the platform will ultimately have an impact on the content that it can carry.
A spokesperson for the department said: “We have been extremely clear: Only platforms have obligations. Users and creators will not be regulated. Platforms are in, user-generated content is out.”
In April, CRTC chair Ian Scott said that Canadians should be confident that the CRTC will respect their free speech.
“Users of online and social media services expect freedom of expression, and they will continue to enjoy this under the new Broadcasting Act,” Scott said.
“Put another way, the CRTC issues about 250 broadcasting decisions annually. Not a single one has ever been successfully challenged on the basis that it somehow infringed Canadians’ freedom of expression.”
Other social media companies have also raised concerns about Bill C-11. In a submission to the Heritage Department, Twitter likened the bill to the internet regulation in authoritarian regimes like China.
“The proposal by the government of Canada to allow the Digital Safety Commissioner to block websites is drastic,” Twitter wrote in the submission, sent in September.
“People around the world have been blocked from accessing Twitter and other services in a similar manner as the one proposed by Canada by multiple authoritarian governments (China, North Korea, and Iran, for example) under the false guise of ‘online safety’ impeding peoples’ rights to access information online.”