The Liberal government is once again attempting to ram through legislation to regulate the internet after Bill C-10 failed to make it through the Senate last year.
C-10’s latest iteration – titled An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts – was introduced to the House of Commons on Tuesday by Liberal Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez.
Reports say the Liberals intend to rush forward the legislation through Parliament with as little obstruction from the Conservative opposition as possible, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau having approached the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP for help earlier this year.
The entirety of the bill’s contents has yet to be presented.
In its original form, C-10 would have expanded the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) regulatory reach to include streaming services and online content providers such as Netflix, Crave and Spotify
The Liberals have also sought to force major web services to pay for government-picked Canadian media content and even to alter their algorithms to promote that content.
Although touted by the Liberals as an attempt to update the Broadcasting Act to today’s digital standards, C-10 received fierce criticism from civil liberties advocates and even former CRTC members.
Both CRTC ex-chair Konrad von Finckenstein and former CRTC commissioner Timothy Denton signed onto a petition blasting the bill as a step towards authoritarianism.
“It appears Canada is not immune to the growing trend of government intervention to curtail freedom and seek to control parts of the internet’s infrastructure in ways reminiscent of actions taken by authoritarian governments,” the petition read.
In the formulation of the bill, the Liberals also sought to strip amendments in the legislation that would protect the content posted online by Canadians from government oversight.
Critics warned that, under the watch of the CRTC, content posted by individuals or small media projects could be removed at the government’s whim and even prevented from being viewed at all.
Additionally, preference could be given to large legacy outlets that lobbied in favour of the bill.