Sovereignty is the ability to make your own choices, yet we’re giving it up to Big Tech – on a silver platter.
Canada used to pride itself on its tough prohibition of hate speech – a radically different approach to America’s First Amendment free-for-all. But Ottawa has taken no meaningful action to ensure that our laws are enforced online. Instead, we cede the authority to govern civic discourse to Facebook’s Community Standards Team – a name that would make Orwell shudder. So while Canadian broadcasters and publishers face consequences for publishing false and illegal content, Facebook can livestream a mass murder without consequence.
Who decides how much Canadian content Internet broadcasters like Netflix should produce? Not Canadians. By choosing to delay regulation of internet broadcasters until at least 2021, we have ceded that power to Netflix. We no longer make cultural policy for ourselves. Instead, we get whatever Canadian content Netflix thinks we deserve.
It goes on. When it comes to enforcing our laws and regulations, Canada is happy to pretend that Facebook isn’t a publisher, Netflix isn’t a broadcaster, Uber isn’t a taxi, Airbnb isn’t a hotel.
Back to Sidewalk. Google is proposing to build a privately governed city, where it dictates the rights of citizens passing through and even takes a cut of public tax revenue. It’s essentially proposing to take over government’s governing duties. Even worse, reading the auditor general’s report on Waterfront Toronto, it looks as though the deal was cooked up in secret and pushed on Toronto after the fact. Nobody – except Google – ever asked for this.