March 3, 2020
The underlying message of the federal government’s new plans for a regulatory Communications Commission is that the government is here to help curate the internet for Canadians. The proposed Commission would decide what sort of online content is to be “trusted.” It may be meant to comfort complacent Canadians, but it isn’t comforting at all. Such a gambit would provide the administrative state the ability to restrict media that it simply doesn’t like, under the guise of wanting to protect us all from “harmful content.”
The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel’s report, issued January 29, 2020, threatens “a free, unfettered internet through which Canadians can speak, learn and communicate without permission of the state,” argues Peter Menzies of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. This report recommends “a sweeping series of interventions that would make all online media – from online sites such as Rabble to Rebel News, and in any language – subject to government regulation.”
“That’s right: After more than a century of non-interference in speech through telecommunications, it is suggested that the state will determine what constitutes news and, when the proposed objectives of the act are included, “trusted” news,” Menzies explained in the Globe and Mail.
“Yet,” he goes on to say, “there are no recommendations among the 97 listed regarding safeguarding the independence of the regulator of news from political interference or of improving transparency regarding its decisions.”
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