FIRST READING: Liberals’ latest ‘censor the internet’ bill sparks Canadian YouTuber backlash

Bill would force independent streamers (some of whom are among world’s visible Canadians) to register with CRTC or risk suppression

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As the federal government pushes to exert unprecedented control over the internet, YouTubers are warning that it could singlehandedly demolish one of the world’s richest sources of Canadian content.

Bill C-11 — a reboot of a prior Liberal attempt to submit the internet to CRTC control — would force online streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and even TikTok to alter their algorithms so that CRTC-approved “Canadian content” is disproportionately pushed on viewers.

Or, as the bill puts it, “online undertakings shall clearly promote and recommend Canadian programming … and ensure that any means of control of the programming generates results allowing its discovery.”

The problem for Canadian YouTubers — many of whom rank as some of the platform’s most successful creators — is that officially qualifying for government-certified “Canadian content” status requires wading through a thicket of CRTC red tape.

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Under the current CanCon regulations observed by Canadian legacy media, programs must provide proof of Canadian citizenship for a minimum number of the cast and crew. Detailed budgets must also be submitted ensuring that 75 per cent of production expenses are from “Canadians or Canadian companies.”

Any streamer who fails to do this could see their content artificially hidden by CRTC mandate.

Most Canadian YouTubers shudder at the thought that this could be our fate,” Canadian YouTuber J.J. McCullough said in recent testimony before a House of Commons committee.

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With 769,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, McCullough regularly boasts view counts that are exponentially higher than even the highest-rated CBC programs. But he told the Committee that he still ranks only among the “mid-level” of Canadian YouTubers.

The tremendous success and even worldwide fame of many Canadian YouTubers in the absence of government regulation should invite questions about the necessity of Bill C-11,” said McCullough.

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