The Liberal government has rejected a Senate amendment to Bill C-11, dubbed the Trudeau government’s online censorship law, which would protect the social media content posted online by Canadians from falling under government regulations. 

Critic of the law and University of Ottawa Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law Michael Geist said that Ottawa’s actions reveal their true intent with the legislation – the power to regulate what you post online. 

“In doing so, [Heritage Minister Pabloe Rodriguez] has left no doubt about the government’s true intent with Bill C-11: retain power and flexibility to regulate user content,” wrote Geist in a blog post.

The amendments proposed by Senators Julie Miville-Dechene and Paula Simons would effectively exclude user content on social media from regulatory oversight by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission. 

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez replied by disagreeing with the amendment “because this would affect the Governor in Council’s ability to publicly consult on, and issue, a policy direction to the CRTC to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services.”

“Rather than citing misleading lobbying claims opposed to the change, it calls it like it is: the government wants the power to direct the CRTC on user content today and the power to exert further regulation tomorrow,” explained Geist. 

If passed by the House of Commons, the law would make “Canada the only country in the democratic world to engage in this form of user content regulation,” according to Geist. 

“On its way to rejecting the concerns of thousands of Canadian creators and dismissing the fears of authors such as Margaret Atwood and Senator David Adams Richards, its real mantra is platforms are in and user content regulation is in.”

In February, Canadian novelists Atwood and Richards warned against the legislation, even comparing it to the thought-control forewarned by famous novelist George Orwell. 

“That what George Orwell says we must resist is a prison of self-censorship,” said Richards. “This bill goes a long way to construct such a prison.”