After significant parliamentary scrutiny and years of political pushback, the Trudeau Liberal government's Online Streaming Act, known as Bill C-11, has passed and will become law.
The bill, focused on reforming the Broadcasting Act to include online content, has been a contentious issue for some time.
Bill C-11 is aimed at forcing popular social media platforms and streaming services to abide by Canadian content regulations similar to those imposed on traditional broadcasters. Platforms like Netflix, Crave, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and YouTube will be required to spend millions of dollars investing in Canadian content and creators.
Critics have raised concerns about the Liberal proposal's potential knock-on effects for content creators and the content users see online.
YouTube, for example, has run an online campaign against the bill, warning users who make money from creating videos about how the legislation could impact their livelihoods. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have argued that the legislation will censor what Canadians see online and have led the charge against Bill C-11 in Parliament.
Despite this divide, the minister responsible for Bill C-11 has emphasized the important contributions of parliamentarians to the final wording of the legislation, while asserting that the time had come to "move on."
The Senate has been in a procedural battle over whether to assert itself and insist on substantive amendments made by the upper chamber, which were rejected by the majority of MPs.
Attempts to have the Senate stand its ground on certain amendments were unsuccessful, but the passed motion was amended to note the Liberals' "public assurance" that Bill C-11 "will not apply to user-generated digital content."
The Trudeau government asserted that existing safeguards in the bill were sufficient and rejected amendments to instill further protections for individual content creators on the basis that it would impact the government's ability to "publicly consult on, and issue, a policy direction to the CRTC to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services."
While the Conservatives have pledged to repeal Bill C-11 should they form government, for now, seeing the Online Streaming Act become law is a long-awaited political victory for the Liberals.
Complicating the back and forth between those who think Bill C-11's critics were doing the bidding of big tech and those who fear the legislation's free speech implications is that much will be left to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to determine how the new rules will be enforced.
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