Bill C-18 edges closer to becoming law after Senate approval

Bill C-18 could become law in just a few days, after it passed the Senate third reading, yesterday, with 51 votes in favour, 23 against and 0 abstentions.

The vote came after the the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications (TRCM) discussed amendments to the bill on Monday and passed 10, the majority of which were backed by the Liberal government.

Some of the approved amendments include:

  1. The bill would come into effect 180 days after its passage
  2. The bargaining process would change, requiring parties to determine the value that each party derives from the news content and the portion that would go to the eligible news business
  3. Individual arbitrators disclosing confidential information will be fined not more than $5000 for a first offence, and not more than $10,000 for subsequent offences
  4. The CRTC can disclose information it considers necessary for a balanced and informed decision-making process

The bill will likely face a final vote in the House of Commons next week, after the government reviews the Senate’s amendments.

Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez thanked the Senate for their work and said in a statement, “We’ll take time to review the final version with all proposed amendments. At the end of the day, we want to make sure Canada has a free and independent press. It’s fundamental to our democracy.“

Rodriguez tabled the bill last summer in a bid to protect the ailing news industry, by mandating Meta and Google to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for linking to their content on their platforms.

Meta said it would end news content in Canada should the bill pass, and initiated a news blocking test on Monday. Google also carried out its own news blocking test in February, but says that it continues to assess a future course of action, after it proposed amendments to the bill.

Google’s spokesperson Shay Purdy said after the Senate approval, “We’re very concerned about the path we’re on, and have been urgently seeking to work with the government on a compromise that would avoid a negative outcome for Canadians and clear the path for us to maintain and build on our investments in the Canadian news ecosystem.”

Rodriguez said in a TRCM meeting last week that he will not bend to any threats made by the tech giants.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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