CRTC Chairman flip-flops again on regulating user content under Bill C-11 [VIDEOS] • iPhone Blog in Canada
CRTC Chairman Ian Scott made another appearance Thursday before the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, which is examining the Liberal government’s controversial online streaming lawalso known as Bill C-11.
During the meeting, Scott once again flip-flop on whether Bill C-11 would give the CRTC the power to regulate user-generated content on the Internet. He was also unable to explicitly define the extent of the CRTC’s power under the proposed bill.
Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and outspoken opponent of the streaming law, set Scott’s flimsy arguments on fire in a recent blog post.
“In this case, Scott has embarrassed himself, the CRTC and the entire legislative process because he clearly failed to defend the independence of the CRTC and zigzagged between actively promoting the bill , claiming that was not his role, and even bizarrely offering to draft potential amendments,” Geist wrote.
Scott first reassured the committee that user content was not on the table, as he had before. However, when asked about the interpretation of section 4.2, Scott admitted that the bill gives the CRTC the power to regulate user-generated content, but said he was not interested in doing so. He also has admitted to as many in May.
“It’s fine that you choose to interpret the bill in this particular way, but that’s not what the language says,” Senator Paula Simons replied to Scott. At one point in the reunion, Simons was visibly angry with Scott over his references to the cat videos. You can check this in the video below:
Scott also got into trouble with the committee for failing to protect the CRTC’s independence and blurring the lines between a regulator and the legislative process.
Another major concern with Bill C-11 is its ability to let the CRTC influence and require changes to the search and discovery algorithms of online platforms. Scott was questioned by the committee about his inconsistency when it comes to algorithmic regulation.
Although the CRTC Chairman tried to argue that Bill C-11 would not allow for algorithmic regulation, he ultimately acknowledged that it was part of the arsenal of potential approaches the CRTC could take to achieve the objectives set out in the legislation.
Scott told the senator Miville-Dechêne, “wWhat I’m trying to explain is that this is a very narrow example. There are many ways to promote discoverability. However, he did not deny that the CRTC may require changes to platform algorithms once it runs out of other suggestions to improve the discoverability of Canadian content.
Scott noted that he won’t require algorithmic changes, only that online platforms will be needed to achieve certain results. That said, Scott will not last long at the head of the CRTC. His term ended in Septemberbut Ottawa extended him for a few months as he is looking for a suitable replacement.
The potential threat that Bill C-11 poses not only to online streaming platforms, but also to digital creators who post content there has led to YouTube, TikTok and many Canadian creators jump into the fray and argue against legislation.
Head to Michael Geist’s blog for his full take on Wednesday’s meeting.