Challenge Shaping Up For Quebec Internet Blocking Law (update)

Action group files complaint with Canadian federal telecommunication commission

In what has been seen by many as inevitable, a Canadian action group has decided to challenge the Quebec provincial government's controversial new law forcing ISP providers to block online gambling sites at the behest of the province's own online gambling enterprise Loto Quebec.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Monday, claiming that Quebec's law 74 represents an unconstitutional breach of Canadian national control of the Internet.
The filing may act as a catalyst for further complaints, translating into action the widespread public condemnation of Act 74 that has filled media columns since the law was passed.
Observers have pointed out that Act 74 is an unconstitutional censorship of the internet that conflicts with the federal telecommunications authority, which has sole jurisdiction over such matters.
Many Net Neutral and freedom of the media advocates have described the law as an overtly commercial attempt to curtail market competition for Quebec's provincial gaming interests.
The provincial finance minister has tried to disguise the move as a public health motivated issue to get around the thorny problem of conflict with the CRTC.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre describes itself as a registered non-profit organisation involved in consumer protection and telecommunications legal issues, with a long membership list of supporting telecomm companies and individuals.
Among its concerns is the fact that if left unchallenged the Quebec law could be expanded into other provinces or industries, or could set a dangerous legal precedent and a threat to freedom of speech.
The action group wants CRTC to declare the Quebec law unconstitutional and issue an injunction against the province proceeding with its iSP blocking initiative.
Other than passing the controversial law, neither the provincial government nor Loto Quebec has yet moved on implementation.
Nevertheless, the action group argues, the very fact that such a law has been passed may compel ISPs to reluctantly begin to prepare for its implementation, and that will likely involve additional costs that are ultimately passed on to consumers.
The PIAC has also expressed doubts on the practicalities of ISP blocking given the number of workarounds that are available and the lack of appropriate resources at provincial government levels, which could see the federal authority being handed the ensuing enforcement problem.
See the full complaint here: http://www.piac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/PIAC-Part-1-Application-Quebec-Bill-74-ISP-Blocking-FINAL-FINAL.pdf

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