A former commissioner of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) called the Trudeau government’s internet regulation bill C-11 a “power grab over human communications.” 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, former commissioner Timothy Denton testified before the Senate transport and communication committee on Wednesday. Denton is currently serving as a chair on the Internet Society and has been vocal about his opposition to the bill in the past. 

“It captures virtually all online audio and video,” said Denton. “(This bill is a) power grab over human communications across the internet and therefore deserves our distinct disdain.” 

Bill C-11 would allow the CRTC to essentially regulate what content Canadians post online. The government claims the bill’s objective is to update the Broadcasting Act, which would force big tech companies like Facebook to pay for Canadian content. However, the law has received wide condemnation as an affront to free speech by industry experts. 

“C-11 declares all audio and visual content on the internet to be broadcasts,” said Denton. 

“It’s a kind of reverse takeover of the internet. The tiny Canadian broadcasting system can take on the world of the internet by the mere trick of redefining ‘broadcasting.’ C-11 is that bold and that absurd.”

Although Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has maintained that the law would not extend to user-generated content, current CRTC chair Ian Scott admitted during testimony in the House of Commons that it would subject said content to the regulatory regime. 

“[Section] 4.2 allows the CRTC to prescribe by regulation user uploaded content subject to very explicit criteria. That is also in the Act,” said Scott. 

“The commission could, for example, issue certain rules with respect to discoverability, could perhaps issue rules…to respond to certain concerns on accessibility.”

University of Ottawa professor and chair in internet and e-commerce law Michael Geist also penned a blog post on the flaws of Bill C-11 following Wednesday’s hearings. 

“The effect of significant new regulatory costs on these (big tech) services is likely to spark one of two responses: some services will simply pass along the costs to consumers in the form of new Cancon surcharges, while others will likely block the Canadian market altogether,” wrote Geist. 

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