In case you haven’t heard, Quebec is trying to block some websites.
The focus is on gambling websites so that the province can force people to gamble only on their province-run casino websites.
The deal is, there are still websites that operate beyond the influence of government regulation, prompting some governments to attempt to regulate online beahviour by ordering internet providers to block access to certain sites they deem offensive.
Until recently, Canadians have generally been spared website blocking initiatives thanks to our Telecommunications Act. The act means that Internet providers are effectively forbidden from unilaterally blocking content.
Then, a few months back, the Government of Quebec announced plans in its budget to require Internet providers to block access to online gambling sites listed by the government agency Loto-Québec.
The budget states the following:
A legislative amendment will be proposed to introduce an illegal website filtering measure. In accordance with this measure, Internet service providers will not be allowed to provide access to an online gaming and gambling website whose name is on a list of websites that are to be blocked, drawn up by Loto-Québec.
The thinking behind the whole thing is that it’s a means to boost government revenue by directing gamblers to the Loto-Quebec-run online gaming site Espacejeux by blocking access to unregulated sites.
The action comes in the wake of failing revenue targets due to users turning to other sites.
We get it.
But the problem is that it’s a pretty slippery slope when the government starts blocking the internet. The fact that Quebec is censoring the Internet inevitably opens the doors for other governments to do the same. Not to mention, they’re doing it all in the name of commercial gain.
Though the repercussions of such a move are yet to be seen, we can expect an inevitable legal challenge.