CANADIAN FIREWORKS LIKELY FOLLOWING PASSAGE OF INTERNET INTEFERENCE BILL IN QUEBEC (Update)
Legal and other experts have been warning provincial politicians for years about the consequences of ISP blocking legalization.
Apparently disregarding repeated warnings regarding interference with the internet from legal and other experts, Quebec provincial lawmakers this week voted for Bill 74, a law that obliges Internet Service Providers in the province to block gambling websites.
The bill authorises the provinces lottery and online gambling operator Loto-Quebec to compile a black list of what it regards are illegal operators and send this to ISPs, who will then have 30 days to implement the blocks or face punitive fines of up to Cdn$100,000.
The legalization has been widely condemned as impractical, possibly illegal in terms of federal telecommunications laws, and blatantly anti-competitive
Local ISPs have already been highly critical of the bill, citing both legal and pragmatic reasons, and have threatened to contest its probity through the judicial system.
Supporters of the new law have displayed remarkable candour in repeatedly claiming that the legalization will reduce competition and increase the contribution from Loto Quebecs Espace Jeux online gambling enterprise to the provincial government Treasury by around Cdn$13.5 million in 2016-17 and Cdn$27 million a year thereafter.
Federal politicians have pointed out that Quebecs law violates the national policy of Internet Neutrality and contravenes federal telecommunications laws.
Others have observed that any law that stifles competition in favour of a government partner is unlikely to be sanctioned by the courts.
Quebecs Finance Minister, Carlos Leitao, has said in the past that he is confident that the province can get around federal law complications by treating Quebecs internet blocking legalization as a "public health issue" falling within the provinces authority (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Local press reports suggest that the provincial government in Quebec is "not the most Net-savvy or even consistent," quoting an instance in 2014 in which lawmakers supported a motion to register government websites under a .quebec suffix, only to subsequently row back from it.