The Canadian Radio and Television and Telecommunication Commission is fighting against a recently passed bill that will prevent Canadian citizens from being able to access online gambling websites that are operating without a valid license. The bill is known as Quebec Bill 74 and was passed earlier this year back in May but hasn’t exactly taken effect quite yet as people are still able to access these sites, but plans on permanently blocking them in the near future.
The goal of the CRTC is to stop the new bill before it begins to enforce the law on the citizens of Quebec. The reasoning behind fighting the bill is that the CRTC believes that it’s an unlawful measure that is being applied to citizens and needs to be reconsidered. CRTC released a letter that explains their positioning on the issue, stating that compliance with outside legal requirements apart from the Quebec government does not create justification to block out websites should there be an absence of a Commission approval as outlined under the bill.
In essence, the group is proposing that the Commission should not have the power to censor the Internet based on their own approval process. The Internet is meant to be a free and open market.
The proposal to determine the legality behind the bill is going to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, which will seek to determine if the CRTC is within the jurisdiction to make a determination as to the legality of the bill. Should the Supreme Court decide that the CRTC is correct and rules in their favor, then the bill would need to pass through the court before it could be applied as law and undergo enforcement.
The controversy that digital law experts are arguing is that Quebec Bill 74 is infringing on the rights of Quebec citizens to an uncensored open Internet. On the other side of the coin those that are fighting to ensure the bill stays in effect are arguing that it is meant to protect citizens from being taken advantage of by these types of illegal gambling websites that don’t undergo regulation but are still allowed to operate their platforms online and potentially scam their users.
Regulation is an important component of gambling because it keeps everyone honest and ensures that players are treated fairly, but at the same time it’s vital to not allow the government to begin censoring the Internet and block citizens from being able to view these types of things.
The new bill wouldn’t actually take effect until some time in 2018, so as of now citizens are still capable of accessing these sites and will be able to for quite some time even if the bill isn’t overturned. Should the bill be overturned or at least delayed by going through the Supreme Court, this amount of time will be extended for either a significant duration or perhaps permanently.