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New broadcasting bill could regulate all your Facebook, Instagram and YouTube posts: expert

Last Updated May 2, 2021 at 1:22 pm MDT

FILE - In this July 21, 2020 file photo, a man opens social media app 'TikTok' on his cell phone, in Islamabad, Pakistan. The owner of TikTok has chosen Oracle over Microsoft as the American tech partner that could help keep the popular video-sharing app running in the U.S., according to a source familiar with the deal who was not authorized to speak publicly about it. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File)

Changes to a broadcasting bill has the feds facing a lot of controversy

One expert says the bill would bring videos and other content posted to social media sites under the review

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal government is facing some criticism after making some changes to Bill C-10, including the ability for the videos you post to be subjected to Canada’s rules for broadcasters.

Michael Geist, Canada’s research chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, says the changes to the bill are problematic for everyone.

“TikTok videos, or YouTube posts or things [Canadians] put up on Instagram, would all be treated as a program by the regulator by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), and subject potentially to regulation,” he explains.

“We’re still trying to figure out precisely what the CRTC would do. I mean, I think the government’s injected a huge amount of uncertainty into this process by opening the door to these kinds of powers and effectively leaving it to the regulator to make those kinds of decisions.”

Geist adds the main question that the feds need to answer is whether or not the CRTC can be in a position to regulate individual users’ speech?

“In many ways. This speech, whether on TikTok posts or YouTube videos, is for the current generation. It’s their form of expression. It’s how they speak. And for my generation, that might have been blog posts or emails. A prior generation, perhaps faxes or letters,” Geist explains. “We never would have imagined the CRTC would have the power to regulate our faxes or letters or emails. But somehow, the government thinks it’s appropriate to give them that kind of regulatory power over this new form of speech on these other kinds of sites.”

Geist adds the changes to the bill will also affect the desire for social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to include Canadian content so that they are not responsible for regulating what users upload.

Currently, the CRTC ensures a certain amount of television programs and music on the radio has to be Canadian content, but the bill would extend those rules to social media and individual users too.