Tuesday December 1,2015 : QUEBEC GOVERNMENT PERSISTS IN INTERNET CONTROL INITIATIVE
But this provincial government could be infringing the Canadian constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Quebec provincial government's continued efforts to control access to the Internet for online gamblers was again evidenced earlier this month when the government introduced unprecedented legalization requiring Internet service providers to implement content blocking.
The introduction of the proposed legalization follows budget discussions earlier in the year in which the government revealed that its own online gambling interests were not meeting revenue targets, and that it believed that website blocking of competitive operators would generate millions in additional revenue
This rather draconian conclusion followed a study by the government's own working group on online gambling, which recommended a licensing system for all sites rather than introducing site bans as the best means of protecting consumers.
Reports on the new bill now under consideration say that it targets unlicensed online gambling websites and is an omnibus measure incorporating elements of the government’s spring budget, which included a pledge to impose website blocking requirements on ISPs.
The sites to be blocked would be decided by the government's lottery commissioners.
The bill provides that “an Internet service provider may not give access to an online gambling site whose operation is not authorized under Quebec law.” ISPs would be forced to block access to such sites within 30 days on pain of initial fines of up to Cdn$100,000 initially if they fail to comply.
Legal observers have pointed out that the Quebec government are treading a fine line that could see an infringement of the Canadian constitution and the national the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And federal law under the Telecommunications Act stipulates that “a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.”
This means that the Quebec legislators may have a rocky judicial road ahead if they persist with the measure, which appears to fly in the face of traditional Canadian liberalism and the protection of free choice and the internet…some experts warn that using such bans to pursue online gambling constitutes a foot-in-the-door for further expansion into other fields that politicians may decide to control or curtail.