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Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault holds a press conference in Ottawa.

For years, Ottawa was content to stand by while foreign-owned digital giants — Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like — reshaped much of how we live and work.

Even when other countries started to push back against Big Tech and its power over the economy, social life and even democracy, Canada pretty much stayed on the sidelines. It seemed there wasn’t any political will to act.

That finally changed after the Liberals were re-elected in 2019. A new heritage minister, Steven Guilbeault, launched an ambitious agenda to address the negative effects of the tech giants in three key areas — culture, “online harms” like hate speech, and the importance of a healthy news media.

Guilbeault deserves a great deal of credit for tackling these big issues. It’s an awful lot to take on, but there’s an awful lot at stake.

In the past week, one of these issues — updating the Broadcasting Act to take into account 21st-century digital realities — has taken front and centre.

The government’s Bill C-10 essentially aims to make sure foreign-based streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, which make lots of money in Canada, do their part in contributing to Canadian culture.

Source: Toronto Daily Star

Date: May 14th, 2021

Link: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2021/05/14/heritage-minister-should-carry-through-with-ambitious-agenda-to-tame-big-tech.html

Discussion

  1. ” Bill C-10, which is now before the Commons heritage committee, the government’s stated goal is to force streaming services (Netflix and Spotify, most prominently) to adjust their algorithms to make Canadian content more visible (what’s known as “discoverability”). ” Should governments be able to force privately owned companies to change their algorithms?
  2. Does it matter that Netflix and Spotify are services for which consumers have to pay for a subscription, so if you don’t like what they are doing you just don’t pay?

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