Canadian Federal Government shuts down Québec’s Bill 74

Bill 74 is widely considered a form of internet censorship.

In May, the Canadian province of Québec passed Bill 74, which authorises the province to require internet service providers to block unlicensed online gambling sites.

Canada.-  In May, the Canadian province of Québec passed Bill 74, which authorises the province to require internet service providers (ISPs) to block any online gambling site that was not licensed by the provincial government. According to Carlos Leitao, Québec Finance Minister, the goal is to protect citizens, although it seems that the aim of a site blacklist is to protect the provincial government-run monopoly on internet gaming, Loto-Québec.

Recently, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in a statement that the online gaming ban violates Canadian law.

The Telecommunications Act reads: “Except where the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.”

In other words, the CRTC says that Bill 74 is unconstitutional, “The Commission is exclusively responsible for the administration of this provision and will remain so, regardless of any finding with respect to the constitutionality of section 12 of Bill 74.”

The Commission preliminarily finds that the Act prohibits the blocking by Canadian carriers of access by end-users to specific websites on the Internet, whether or not this blocking is the result of an ITMP (Internet Traffic Management Practices).

In consequence, any such blocking is unlawful without prior Commission approval, which would only be given where it would further the telecommunications policy objectives. Furthermore, compliance with other legal or juridical requirements, whether municipal, provincial, or foreign, does not in and of itself justify the blocking of specific websites by Canadian carriers, in the absence of Commission approval under the Act.