Google-owned online video platform YouTube believes the Trudeau government’s vision to modernize the Broadcasting Act poses a problem for its Canadian users. The latter are less categorical.
In a short statement sent to Duty, the Californian company denounces Bill C-10, which could, in its current form, jeopardize the “principle of openness” on which YouTube is developed. “We are very concerned about the unintended consequences of this law, particularly with regard to the potential impact on Canadian content creators who use our platform to reach global audiences and the millions of Canadians who use YouTube every day to find their way. connect with the content they want, ”the company writes.
YouTube’s opinion broadly mirrors that of the official opposition in Ottawa that this law project designed to regulate web giants just like Canadian broadcasters opens the door to tyrannical federal control on what is broadcast online. The Conservatives have been fiercely opposed to Bill C-10 since the withdrawal in parliamentary committee of a paragraph specifying that the law would not apply to programs uploaded to social media. The goal was specifically to make YouTube subject to regulation.
The government assures that its law will not apply to simple Internet users. Even so, the scope of what could theoretically be regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is the subject of much speculation in the media in English Canada. Pornographic sites could for example be constrained to offer Canadian content, says the Toronto Star.
Do Quebecers who earn their living with the content they share on the Web fear that legislation intended to increase the “discoverability” of their content is slipping towards censorship? “Not at all”, answers the influencer Fred bastien (34,800 subscribers on YouTube), according to whom such a bill has been awaited for years by the creators.
“Me, personally, there is something that tires me a lot: when you pass near a primary school, you hear jokes in French from France. That’s just because they listen to videos of French people, which have a higher content economy than ours, ”he says.
Co-author of the YouTube channel Gilles pis La p’tite (65,700 subscribers), Olivia Leclerc does not believe that her freedom of expression is in danger either. “It could give us good visibility,” analyzes the designer whose channel does not yet earn enough to pay her rent.
The government’s intention, however, is less clear for the couple of musicians formed by David Michaud and Julia Westlin, who earns a living performing in English on YouTube (554,000 subscribers) from their home in Warwick, in Center-du-Québec. Interviewed at Duty, Mr. Michaud underlines “never to have received subsidies from the government”. Rather than shine locally, it aims for global success so that the royalties of the platforms become sufficiently large.
“I don’t think we would change what we do [si la législation était adoptée], recognizes the creator on the Web. But at the same time, I do not find it correct that content is imposed. If we go on the Internet, it’s because we want to discover content in a transparent way. We do not want to have content imposed right in the face because we come from Canada. “
For Nabil Lahrech, A 26-year-old Montrealer with 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube (of which only 15% are Quebecers), the proposed legislation “would amount to changing YouTube”. “The algorithm focuses [déjà] on what you want to consume. In the end, I feel like we’re trying to fix something that isn’t broken. [YouTube] is governed by the community, by the audience, by the movement of the crowd. He admits, however, that the bill would not change the way he shoots videos.
Several designers consulted mentioned YouTube algorithms as representing, at the present time, a sort of protocol that should be mastered in order to obtain visibility. The platform is also itself the target of many criticisms for having restricted the right to speak of users. “As we speak, the rules for using these platforms are more [strictes], more opaque and more random than government control over content, ”says Fred Bastien.
The study of Bill C-10 is progressing at a snail’s pace in parliamentary committee, seriously fear to the government and the Bloc Québécois that the text goes by the wayside if a summer election is called. Last week, the Conservative Party proposed to reintroduce previously deleted Chapter 4.1. A final attempt to exclude YouTube from the scope of the law, by not legislating on the content posted by its users.