Digital Media Companies Petition the Senate to Slow Process on Internet Regulation Bill

Digital Media Companies Petition the Senate to Slow Process on Internet Regulation Bill
Music streaming apps clockwise from top left, Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, and Google on an iPhone are seen in a file photo taken in New York on Jan. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
Andrew Chen

YouTube, Apple Music, and other digital media companies are petitioning the Senate to slow the final passage of a bill aimed at regulating the internet.

“We urge this committee to pause,” the executives of the companies wrote in a letter to the standing Senate committee on transport and communications, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Bill C-11, also known as An Act To Amend The Broadcasting Act, “will have a significant impact on music streaming services,” says a submission to the committee by the Digital Media Association (DiMA). The trade group represents YouTube, Amazon, Spotify, and other companies.

“Together these services connect millions of fans across Canada and around the world with tens of millions of songs and podcasts providing unique listening experiences,” the letter says. Nine million Canadians subscribe to streaming services, it noted.

Bill C-11 would see the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulate commercial internet programmers like Netflix and Youtube similar to federal controls on television and radio stations. In its letter, DiMA criticized this approach to internet communications.

“Bill C-11 attempts to impose a system of regulation that is designed for traditional broadcasters onto streaming services,” DiMA said. “Imposing this antiquated system onto innovative streaming services in an era of consumer choice, where there are no gatekeepers to content as there are in the broadcasting context, is the wrong approach.”

Lobbyists are seeking numerous amendments to the bill. The Senate committee is set to hold hearings on Bill C-11 on Sept. 14, with testimony expected from both supporters and critics of the legislation.

Members of the Senate committee have asked that cabinet spell out regulations it plans to introduce if the bill is passed.

“We need the rules before we have the legislation,” Sen. Pamela Wallin said in a June 23 hearing. “It is not just for the clarity of parliamentarians. It is for everybody who uses the internet which encompasses pretty much all Canadians in one way or another. They need to know what is or what is not about to happen to them.”

“Asking us to sign up for the game without knowing the rules of the game is a little concerning,” she said. “It will affect potentially every single Canadian who uses the internet.”