The online streaming bill could force YouTube to manipulate its algorithm: CRTC Chair

Under the authority of the proposed online streaming bill, the chairman of the Canadian broadcast regulator said it could ask platforms such as YouTube to “manipulate” algorithms to make Canadian music easier to find. increase.

Ian Scott told the Senate Committee, which is considering the bill, that the Canadian Radio and Television Communications Commission does not want to manipulate the algorithm itself, but on the platform “manipulates it (algorithm) to produce specific results. I want you to do it. “

His remarks were confiscated by critics of the online streaming bill. They say it confirms that they have warned.

Matthew Hatfield of OpenMedia said Scott’s remarks confirmed “what we’ve been saying all the time.” OpenMedia is an organization dedicated to keeping the Internet open. It’s primarily funded by individuals, but it gets some funding from Google, which the parent company also owns YouTube.

YouTube warns that Canadian digital creators, including influencers and streamers, could lose foreign revenue if the government forces digital platforms to promote Canadian content.

This may suggest that the algorithm is cross-border and unpopular if the Canadian songs presented to YouTube viewers in Canada are not liked or selected. As a result, it may be downgraded worldwide.

The bill updates Canadian broadcast laws applicable to platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify, and takes steps to make Canadian content such as music, movies, and television shows more “discoverable.” Force.

Michael Geist, chairman of the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Law Research Committee, said it has long been clear that these rules require algorithmic manipulation.

“Sure, that’s exactly why so many Canadian digital creators have expressed concern about the bill and the harm it can cause,” he said.

“The CRTC chair allows the law to indirectly do what the government says it can’t do directly by manipulating algorithms that put pressure on the platform to prioritize certain content over other content. I admitted to doing it. “

Geist said this could allow Canadian creators to downgrade content globally, reducing revenue and exposure.

However, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez publicly stated that the bill would not require the platform to manipulate the algorithm.

On Thursday, his spokesman emphasized that the government’s position had not changed, noting that some of Bill C-11 explicitly excluded algorithmic manipulation. The provisions of the bill would prevent the CRTC from issuing orders requiring “use of specific computer algorithms or source code.”

“The government asks CRTC to work with the platform to showcase content so that more Canadians can find, select and enjoy content from Canadian artists and creators,” Laura Scaffidi said. I am saying.

“It’s up to the platform to decide how to best achieve these goals.”

Scott said Wednesday evening when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, which is conducting a preliminary investigation into the bill.

This week’s online streaming bill has passed the House of Commons and will be scrutinized by the Senate.

Scott said in his opening remarks to the Commission that the CRTC “has a great deal of support” for the bill, but that some amendments will be made, including one that will allow the dispute to continue to be resolved. I want.

YouTube, Spotify and CRTC declined to comment.

Marie Woolf

Canadian press